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It's a knockout

Trawling through the obligatory journals in preparation for writing this month's Ad Lib was a rather unremarkable experience

Trawling through the obligatory journals in preparation for writing this month's Ad Lib was a rather unremarkable experience. I accepted the challenge but after a while I began to ask myself, why? It wasn't so much that there were few genuinely I wish I had come up with that ads, it was actually more to do with the lack of new campaigns out there that have not been critiqued already in Ad Lib.

So I've decided to put a different slant on this month's Ad Lib section. I thought it would be interesting to look at pairs of ads that compete in the same therapy area. Searching for worthy opponents to slug it out was a gruelling task... so many weak contenders... but why?

We are all familiar with the arduous bouts of market research, committee decisions, and rules and regulations ads have to endure before the final bell. Those ads that stay intact are few and far between, but far too many end up on the canvas with a bloody nose and more than a couple of teeth missing!

It's difficult to look at an ad objectively when you know what many of these ads have come up against but, with some nifty footwork reminiscent of a butterfly dancing, it's still possible to rise to the challenge.

So, ladies and gentlemen, please take your ringside seats. It's time to sort the heavyweights from the featherweights. Seconds out...

Round 1: CYMBALTA V CIPRALEX
In the red corner... CYMBALTA - for depression

Oh dear. So let's see: depressed patient [check], dark/moody environment [check], doorway of light offering hope [check] [check] [check]. Or should I say here, here and here?? Annotated body parts seem to be the order of the day.

I can't tell you how many times I passed this ad by before realising that for this reason it should be included. Full marks for media spend... but a contender this annoyingly persistent has to be dealt with.

All right, I'll stop, let's not get carried away. After all, it's no punch bag. It works, it does what it set out to do and the client is probably happy - but its just dull, dull, dull. A lightweight underdog.

In the blue corner... CIPRALEX - for depression
Having survived a couple of Ad Lib punch-ups already this year, this ad definitely demands to be included here. It's bold, brave and different.

As with the Cymbalta ad, it answers the brief but in a more positive way. There's no suffering here, quite the opposite. A clever/surreal illustrative style that makes you stop and look combined with a cheerful approach that is refreshing in this therapy area and you have an ad that simply blows the competition away.

A world-class fighter.

Round 2: NICORETTE V NIQUITIN cq
In the red corner... NICORETTE - for smoking cessation

This one has spent hours in the gym preparing for the big fight, but runs the risk of overtraining and trying a bit too hard! It's not that it's a bad ad - the concept itself is faultless, as is the art direction, but it's just a little over the top visually. Personally, I would have kept everything a lot simpler; over-polishing an ad can complicate a concept, but the strong idea here shines through none the less.

All said, it's a well-balanced ad that works and at the same time raises a smile to boot. A good contender.

In the blue corner... NIQUITIN CQ - for smoking cessation
The challenger here (I use that term loosely) is NiQuitin CQ. It seems to say that GPs don't need reminding of the effects of smoking. If that's the case, while we're there we may as well remind them that obesity can lead to cardiovascular problems too!

Shouldn't what separates this from other NRTs be what we're focusing on? If it were a migraine product, would it say I can save him from a sore head, or if it was for depression I can make him happy again - please!

Another `safe' ad that has been beaten to within an inch of its life. Someone should have counted to 10 a long time ago.

Skipping - yes, boxing - absolutely not!

round 3: XENICAL V REDUCTIL
In the red corner... XENICAL - for weight loss

Another seasoned Ad Lib sparring partner... but please deign to hear me out on this one.

This is one of my favourite campaigns of recent years and it's still going strong. Impactful imagery and strong typography make this a true heavyweight champion. It's obvious that from concept to finished ad this bad boy is a great idea that's only got stronger. Brave creative drives home a simple yet brutal point.

Witty and powerful - I can't imagine any creative worth his salt not liking this campaign. Pork chop and chips, anyone?

An undisputed world champion.

In the blue corner... REDUCTIL - for weight loss
Visually stunning and effectively simple. I could leave it there, nothing more needs to be said.

A clever take on an old nursery rhyme in what is the first of a series of ads that has what it takes to go head-to-head with the very best.

If Xenical is the heavyweight champion of the world, then this is the new kid on the block vying to take its crown. Not only are these drugs competing on the GP's scorecard but, creatively, they are evenly matched.

A heavyweight title bout that would have to come down to points; there's not an ounce between them!

2nd September 2008

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