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In with the new

Welcome to the New Year. I hope that 2007 is the year in which all your dreams and wishes come true. Although you won't read this until January

Welcome to the New Year. I hope that 2007 is the year in which all your dreams and wishes come true. Although you won't read this until January, I am actually writing it the week before Christmas. This means that I'm full of festive good cheer, so you'll not find me mithering on about the lack of quality advertising in last month's GP press.

You might think having the added responsibility of trying to write an Ad Lib article in the mad social whirl that is the week before Christmas would be the cheese straw that broke the camel's back, but in fact I love doing Ad Lib. I think this is my third or fourth, and I never tire of looking at what the competition is doing.

My New Year's resolution is to speak plainly, say what I feel and hang the consequences (it should last about three days). So the following is just an honest, personal appraisal of what I found lurking in the pages of GP, Pulse and Doctor. I'll be using a simple binary rating scale of 1 or 0, on or off, it's good or it's not...

Champix
Is this the ULTIMATE pharmaceutical advertisement? If not, it really must come close. It has the POWER headline (with a contrasting colour and larger typeface for EXTRA impact), it has the perfect visual (who could possibly fail to engage with an EXPLODING cigarette) and it has three bullet points for extra EMPHASIS (no engaging prose copy for this ad, oh no). It also has lots of BRANDING - at least I assume that's what that liberal use of green is all about.

Perhaps the only thing it is missing is a GRAPH or two. What a wasted opportunity - a new class of drug for a difficult-to-treat disease area that could really have an IMPACT on the nation's health and the best we can do is a standard pharma POWER ad. Try looking for inspiration at NiQuitin for an engaging NRT ad, or even better the award-winning BHF ads for inspiration.

Rating 0

Gardasil
Cervical cancer kills more than 1,000 women in the UK every year, making it one of the most prevalent forms of cancer for women. Gardasil is the first vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer. Sadly, although this advertisement is for a brand that can really make a difference, it leaves me cold. I'm not engaged and my question is whether GPs will be, especially when the art direction looks like many other ads we've seen in the past.

Perhaps it's enough to just say `the first vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer'. For now. I'm sure that Gardasil won't be unique for long - there must be other companies with a vaccine in development. I can't help thinking that Gardasil should be building a distinctive brand while the sun shines. The competitive environment is bound to get harder from here on in.

Rating 0

Duac
Spots aren't likely to kill people and while I am not demeaning the impact that acne can have on people's lives, I am saying it is rarely a life-threatening condition. Perhaps that's one of the reasons an ad like this can exist. We feel that it is okay to use humour to engage the doctor in an ad for a disease area that isn't, for the want of a better word, serious.

So, here is a wonderfully engaging advertisement that shows an insight into the strange world of teenagers and uses wit and humour to get the point across. Now I'm not saying that this approach would work for a cervical cancer vaccine, but surely some of the charm of this ad wouldn't go amiss? Why is it that we can produce great ads for less `serious' ailments and sink to the lowest common denominator for our big life-saving treatments?

Rating 1

Canesten HC
Now, because of regulations, it's not often that pharmaceutical advertising features naked breasts. This is entirely right and proper. But lo and behold, in December GP featured not one but in fact two advertisements with naked breasts. I should point out that both of these breasts are tastefully displayed and I don't think that either of them is likely to lead to complaints on the grounds of decency. They do, however, demonstrate two ends of the spectrum when it comes to pharmaceutical advertising.

I'm afraid that this first one for Canesten HC really suffers from lazy thinking. It combines a poor pun in the headline with a clumsy graphic device to emphasise the problem we're tackling. Canesten is a well known and respected brand that many doctors are comfortable to prescribe, but that doesn't mean that this particular brand extension won't need a good ad to promote it. There's no strong idea here and I think that the brand suffers for it. Should not all Canesten ads be aimed at protecting the brand's equity across the whole range? Certainly not this brand's breast work (you see, when you open the door to punning then you just can't say when it's going to stop!)

Rating 0

Livial
In contrast to Canesten HC we have the Livial ad. Here there is a good idea and some thoughtful art direction. The breast is very much integral to the advertising idea and indeed the proposition for the brand. After going through a lifetime of ups and downs from the cheeky `loving' to the all-conquering `gravity', surely it's time that this breast got some TLC? So why not prescribe an HRT treatment that will reduce the risk of breast cancer compared with other therapies? Wonderful. Again this ad is witty and insightful, drawing the prescriber in and asking them, with just the right tone of voice, whether they think that this is a good enough reason to use Livial. Of course it is. No need for POWER headlines. No need for half-baked puns. Just a simple and engaging ad that I think will sell some product.

Rating 1

Author: Alex Fone of Langland

2nd September 2008

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