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Lovely jubbly bubbly

When I was first asked to write Ad Lib I had the great idea (I thought) of only reviewing ads I liked and admired. In my opinion, Ad Lib has room for a lot more positivity

When I was first asked to write Ad Lib I had the great idea (I thought) of only reviewing ads I liked and admired. In my opinion, Ad Lib has room for a lot more positivity. It should be a place where you know you are going to see something fabulous, so I set off on my quest to find five healthcare ads that I really liked. Ha! Ha! `Quest' was the right word! I forged ahead in the pages of the GP media, voyaged through the pharmacy press, plundered sheets from the nursing journals and even scanned the consumer media.

I was not deterred by the fact that August is a terrible month for advertising, and I was not put off by the large volume of scary ads for ladies with unstable bladders. I knew what I was looking for and I was determined to find it. I was looking for brand communication. I wanted exciting ideas, great photography, beautiful design and, of course, inspirational copy. Could I have it all? Five times over? Or was I just being too greedy?

My rating system: for the best, only bubbly will do...

VIATIM - typhoid fever and hepatitis A vaccination

VIATIMThis sophisticated ad really grabbed my attention. It has a neat idea that is not immediately obvious; you have to work out the fact that this rather nice, but somewhat scatty, young traveller is the sort of person who leaves everything to the last minute. That is why he is an ideal candidate for a vaccination that works super-fast. Got it.

The camera has captured a cheeky flirtation between the airline lovely and handsome hero, which makes it very human and quite charming. What a great set-up for a wonderful piece of body copy to close the deal. But what do I see? Ughhh! Vile bullet points that make the dead facts even deader. What a shame.

1 glass of champagne

PLETAL - cardiovascular

PLETALNow, I am really in two minds about this ad. On the one hand I really like the fact that there is a real idea that is obviously very campaignable.

The idea ties in brilliantly to the brand name and there is a witty piece of body copy. So I really, really want to like the ad. But, try as I might, I just can't. The photography is unnaturally staged; the look is too beige. The overall impression is too 1987. Sorry.

No glasses of champagne

FLORA - cholesterol-lowering

FLORAI wanted to include one of the many consumer ads trying to grab some medicinal kudos. Everyone's at it. The science bit has become incredibly fashionable and consumers are increasingly persuaded by pseudo-science, techno-babble.

Enter Boswelox, Bifidus Digestivus, MorpholiftÖ I particularly liked this long copy ad because it doesn't revert to an `ology' (in this case, plant sterol science). This ad uses a well-known figure with raised cholesterol to tell her story, which feels very real because the tone and language are spot on. The idea also leads to a stylish website with practical cholesterol-lowering ideas. I'll bet a pound-to-a-penny the average GP reading his Sunday paper would be very happy if some of his patients took the Flora Pro-active challenge.

Finally, I like the fact that this tactical ad doesn't labour its brand roots, simply tying in via the wonderful `keep the beat' brand-line, which is - refreshingly - not in the bottom right-hand corner.

1 glass of champagne

DETRUNORM - Urinary

DETRUNORMTry as I might to avoid the plethora of ads for ladies with unreliable bladders, I could not. I found a lady at a baptism who has 'no worries about wetting the baby's head' (what can I say?), a camel to illustrate 'less dry mouth' (very single minded) and a tap to show good control.

I chose Detrunorm. It shows a nice, middle class lady shopping in a nice, clean mall. She isn't bothered by the toilets being closed because she has 'confidence through bladder control'. This is a very clear communication and I hope doctors are getting the message. Yet, is it as brilliant as it could have been? Imagine this had been done just like a VW ad. They'd have made the audience work far harder to work out why the lady could wait. Maybe the cleaning trolley would have gone. Maybe the sign would have been a little less obvious. But wow: what a reward when you got it.

1 glass of champagne

NUROFEN - pain relief

NUROFENAt the end of my quest to find ads that have it all (and have not been reviewed in Ad Lib before) I was feeling a little deflated. Then I struck gold. Targeted at pharmacists, this Nurofen lineextension for back pain shone out. A simple, single-minded idea, 'Freedom for backs', has been executed to an exceptionally high standard.

The art direction is exquisite. In fact, the detail is so lovely that I would urge you to look at a full size version for yourself. I take my hat off to creative team and client alike, both of which have clearly spent time and money crafting an elegant ad that pharmacists cannot fail to take note of. Profit and awards will surely follow.

3 glasses of champagne

2nd September 2008

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