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A bit too green

Andrew Nicholson, creative director at Magnetic hca, examines the concept of originality and takes a look at some advertisements in the healthcare press and rates them on this basis... 

Like most people I'm keen to do my bit for the environment; cycling to work, a green car (not just the colour, but the fuel as well) and I'm a recycler bordering on the evangelical. Newspapers - yes, tins -yes, wine bottles - maybe a few too many. But ideas? Most definitely not.

The old adage says: 'There's no such thing as a new idea'; a school of thought that I've never subscribed to. How could I ever motivate myself when putting pen to layout pad if I didn't think I was venturing into a brave new ideas world?

As I flick through the healthcare press I'm concerned that some recyclers are going a bit too far. Even a stick-on moustache and dark glasses can't disguise these reprocessed ideas. So I'm left puzzled: if differentiation is what separates and elevates a brand, why would brands with unique properties be promoted by ads that are far from unique? In the environment of advertising, my ratings symbols work in reverse, where zero per cent represents original thinking, making us green with envy and 100 per cent signals it's time to break the cycle and move on to greener pastures.

Cymbalta and diclomax SR 2007 - 98%
For depression and arthritic pain Rather unfortunately, the Cymbalta ad and the Diclomax SR ad appeared on the same spread in GP. It's no wonder the younger woman is depressed, when she has to share her concept with her granny. Both ads have striking similarities and both are made from 98 per cent recycled wood pulp from the earlier 1997 Mobic ad of the same idea.

Exforge 2007 and Protium 2001 - 86%
For hypertension and gastric ulcers Maybe it's because of the 2001 ad for Protium that I feel I've seen the new Exforge ad somewhere before... This visual metaphor makes perfect sense, and would surely please an international audience, but maybe by paddling further into uncharted waters, this novel combination drug could have been represented by a novel combination of words and pictures.

Nebilet 2006 and Climagest 1990 - 92%
For heart failure and HRT It's easy to understand why the advertising world is drawn to Beryl Cooks' larger-than-life illustrations. They're fun, upbeat and instantly lend a strong visual identity to a brand. Or in this case, brands. The Climagest campaign broke in 1990 and ran for a couple of years. Maybe the image deserved a chance to come back? But I can't help feeling that of all the thousands of illustrators waiting to create something new and exciting, one of them could have visualised Nebilet-man getting on top of his BP in a more 2007 way.

Versatis 2006 and Curatoderm 1996 - 82%
Post-herpetic neuralgia and psoriasis Recycling ideas and images is one thing, but what about recycling executional techniques? Moving things on, bettering the best, pushing the boundaries. This is one kind of recycling I'm definitely in favour of. Back in 1995, Dettol produced the brilliant, emotionally charged, Life Hurts, Dettol Heals campaign, depicting children painted with a wasp and a broken glass. Bettering these would be a real achievement and any future body painting execution would do well to use the Dettol campaign as an executional benchmark. So where does that leave Versatis and Curatoderm? Execution can be part of a brand's differentiation, but if there's nothing new there's a danger the journal will hit the recycling bin without ever having connected with the customer.

Rating system - How green are you?
In the environment of advertising, theses percentages work in reverse, where 0 percent represents original thinking, making us green with envy and 100% is time to break the cycle and move on to greener pastures.

9th May 2007

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