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A very tight squeeze

I've always fancied writing an Ad Lib. There's nothing I enjoy more than skimming through the BMJ or Pulse and checking out the competition - when I get the time

I've always fancied writing an Ad Lib. There's nothing I enjoy more than skimming through the BMJ or Pulse and checking out the competition - when I get the time.

Busy GPs don't have much time to read journals either. However, the one thing they may still glance at is MIMS: home of the abbreviated ad.

In the small space available, an abbreviated ad needs to work hard and fast to communicate what a brand is about. Since the latest ABPI guidelines, the amount of obligatory information to cram into your 420cm2 leaves you with even less space to play with. We now have to include all that new stuff about yellow card reporting, as well as the usual indications consistent with SmPC, statements and addresses etc.

Perversely, there's also a whole bunch of things that you aren't supposed to mention, such as references, dosage and cost (unless cost is the reason why the product is recommended in the first place). It's all there in the Code: Chapter 5, Verses 1 to 7, should you wish to study it, or need a treatment for insomnia.

Because an abbreviated ad is a staple ingredient that even those on tight budgets can afford, I have chosen a potato theme for my rating system.

CALCEOSCalceos - for osteoporosis
This is a great example of an abbreviated ad. I like the witty headline - a brave decision, as I'm sure someone has already pointed out that osteoporosis affects far more women than men. Perhaps the pinky background colour is supposed to compensate for this?

I also like the idea behind the ad which matches the upper class woman with the good taste of the brand. The photography reflects this well and they've even managed to sneak a pack into the shot. My only slight moan is the repetition of the word `taste'. I'm not sure you need it twice in such a small space.

This ad is the pick of the crop, so I award it a Jersey.

Zineryt - for acne
ZINERYTThis ad is a vast improvement over the original, although the leaping leopard has survived in miniature form next to the logo. I'm sure it was quite a creative challenge to retain the original branding while adding a patient perspective.

I do find the visual a bit contrived. If I had acne I would definitely like my skin to be as flawless as the patient pictured!

The headline needlessly uses the word `unmask', as they are already showing unmasking in the visual. However, it is easy to understand and I like the way that the main part of the ad is bright and impactful, but all the extraneous matter is `hidden' underneath.

A solid performance here.

CARDIOPLENCardioplen - for hypertension
Now this is a confusing one. Although the image conveys speed and personal delivery, for me it throws up more questions than it answers. Is this a corporate, product or a service ad? Which one delivers? And what is Quest - apart from a clever acronym?

Referring to the full ad in Pulse I see that 'We Deliver' on the postie's back is followed by the line `more than you'd expect'. The body copy then goes on to compare Cardioplen with a competitor, which makes much more sense.

I'm afraid that the abbreviated ad has failed to translate to a smaller space.

Next time, concentrate on only one thing.

EXUBERAExubera - for diabetes
This woman strongly reminds me of someone Scottish. Our creative director has just confirmed who it is: Wee Jimmy Krankie (albeit with a makeover and a bit of weight gain). The visual and copy are very straightforward and have a suitable announcement feel. We can see what the new device looks like and get an idea of how it's taken.

I'm guessing that the creatives had to make sure the ad didn't look too much like it was for an asthma inhaler. So no outdoor or wind-related visuals then! I will be watching with interest to see how this campaign develops.

Overall, I think this ad does the job, but could do with more flavour in the future.

Inegy - for high cholesterol
INEGYI'm baffled why an abbreviated ad needs two product logos, perhaps this is because it is a combination product. I deduce that Inegy's core essence must be 'dual power' as it also reminds me of this twice. In case I really don't get it, there is a massive visual of a twin-engined power boat leaving a double stripe in its wake. The dual message is coming across loud and clear.

I can see why this type of ad tests well in market research, but I'm not sure I would remember what the product is actually for. The visual lacks warmth or emotion - the helmsman doesn't look like he is having much fun, all alone in his white boiler suit.

Unnecessary repetition coupled with a bland visual leads me to look into that sky for a flying saucer.

The author
Sarah Young is senior copywriter at Life Healthcare Communications

2nd September 2008

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