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Food for thought

I am always surprised by what we creatives - frustrated or not - like and what our audience likes when it come to market research and audience assessed awards.

OK, I admit it; I am a frustrated creative. There, I've said it. Do I feel any better about it? Not really, I expect many people have suspected it for quite some time.

The reason for my confession? As a frustrated creative, I have to admit that when I evaluate creative work, either as part of my job or drinking in advertising messages in my spare time, I always ask myself: “Would I have thought of that?” or “Would I have done it that way?”

This presents me with a quandary. As a would-be creative, do I rate ads as 'good' if I feel I might have come up with the idea, or do I slam them for the same reason? I suppose, after all this time, if my creative talents were to be recognised, they would have been so before now.

Therefore, I have to admit that if I feel I would have come up with the idea, then it can't be the best around. I don't think I'm alone in this view - after all that's not my job, but it would be interesting to see if our target audiences feel the same way.

I am always surprised by what we creatives - frustrated or not - like and what our audience likes when it come to market research and audience assessed awards.

Protelos - for osteoporosis
As a passionate believer in the relevant unexpected, I suppose this ad is totally relevant in its visual context but not entirely unexpected - unless one expects to see frail ladies on skateboards or wandering through windswept scenery.

The creative team is to be applauded for staying away from lifestyle images but I can't help feeling it has written the brief on this lady's hip bone.

Strong use of colour assists brand identity but does it really create a brand image in the mind? Simple, uncomplicated art direction assists a direct message but does not stimulate me to make my own response. However, I did think the ad worked better when it first appeared with the band wrap asking: 'Is this how you see the future?' To my mind this ad is too much tell and not enough sell.

Bextra - for pain relief
Bearing in mind what's going on in this market at the moment, there are probably more important issues to talk about than the advertising. However, I was quite surprised to see this imagery - I had feelings of déjà vu - and was even more surprised when I saw that it came from Pfizer.

A very similar approach was taken by Pfizer in the early days of their original anti-arthritic, Feldene, except they used a marmalade jar, which conveyed messages of relief from early morning stiffness of the joints. However, I like the way this ad works - there is a very strong headline and a simple image that illustrates how hard it can be for people with arthritis to perform simple tasks.

But, I can't help feeling that it loses its impact by the addition of the paragraph at the top which explains the relevance of the image and the line. The stimulus and response aspect has been lost. It's like starting a joke off with the punch line. A bit of client pressure maybe, after a smidgen of market research?

Qvar - for asthma
This is one of those ads that makes me wonder: 'What was the brief?' Apart from telling me that Qvar is now available in the excellent Easi-Breathe inhaler, I think it is also telling me that I should/could discover the difference. Yet, the difference is not depicted in the ad at all. There is a bit of copy telling me that it has small particles and is easy to use - is that the difference? If so, I had to work really hard to find it.

Amazing feats of physical dexterity performed by patients on certain medications is not a unique approach and I can't help feeling that this may be seen by some as an over-claim. I think I got all the messages because I took the time to read it, because I had to, but I didn't feel compelled to do so - will the doctors?

Transtec - for pain relief
I like this ad. Not for its startling creativity or amazingly witty and prosaic copy. No, I like it because it is simple and does a very good job in positioning the brand in a different way. Those of us who have ascended and descended the analgesic ladder in an attempt to position one analgesic against another (particularly when you have other analgesics in your own portfolio) will know what I mean.

I also like it because I can see the visual element working well in the detail situation: a useful aid to the rep, rather than a pretty front cover to the detail aid that does little to assist the selling story. I've got just one gripe; the picture quite clearly positions Transtec above weak opioids, so why say it again in the strapline?

Vesicare - for urge incontinence
Going back to what I said in the beginning about audience assessed awards, I was interested to see this ad from the people who brought us Flomax - the cheeky suggestive advertising being a regular favourite with GPs.

We know that one reason that GPs like Flomax is because it says 'Flo' in the brand name, positioning the drug in their minds. Have Yamanouchi and its agency borrowed this learning for the new bladder drug by using 'flow' in the headline?

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it but if so, I take my hat off to them and I think the image, by the addition of the female hand, clearly differentiates this brand from the male BPH (Flomax) condition and offers a good, stylish and simple metaphor for the brand.

The Author
Justin McCarthy is managing director at MJL Advertising

2nd September 2008

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