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Whats the problem?

It is a long-held belief in marketing and advertising circles that, wherever possible, one should communicate what the product provides

It is a long-held belief in marketing and advertising circles that, wherever possible, one should communicate what the product provides - the solution to a problem - rather than simply illustrate the problem (which any product could theoretically put its name to).

That's all very well, but when it comes to medicines, it would create a situation where every drug advert featured a happy, grinning patient and brand differentiation would be even harder than it is already.

While many ads do attempt, and some succeed in, this aim, an equal number focus on the problem, which can usually be illustrated in much more dramatic and creative ways.

The challenge then is to ensure that your presentation of the problem is associated directly with its solution, as offered by your brand - and that the whole style, as well as tone, of your communication resonates with your brand values.

The ads reviewed below hopefully illustrate that both routes can be equally good (or bad) at serving your brand.

As for the rating system, I have decided to use weather symbols, as these reflect our current propensity to experience several seasons' weather in one day (and with the bank holiday season underway, most of us will be watching the forecasts to see if the BBQ can go ahead).

Click on images for a larger view

DETRUSITOL XL - for overactive bladder
Well, here we are. The idea that most creative teams working on overactive bladder (OAB) will probably have considered and binned has finally appeared in not one but, to the best of my knowledge, three separate double-page spread executions.

These problem-focused ads certainly have impact, are well executed and the copy is good. But, as in so many of these ads for malfunctioning nether regions, it's a matter of taste.

I suspect that this one will really polarise opinion and a lot of people (including me) won't like it.

On the other hand, it's arguably better to upset some and excite others, than do neither.

LYRINEL XL - for overactive bladder
In contrast to the 'toilet heads', what other ways can we promote overactive bladder? How about an animal?

No set of pharmaceutical ads can be complete without an animal appearing somewhere - and if you're going to use an animal, at least make it a good one.

I can't recall having seen a camel before. It has an impactful and engaging face, and, I believe, is actually an analogy that works (preserving water and all that).

Not too sure what it does for the branding though, seeing as how the generic is considerably bigger than the brand name.

VESICARE - for overactive bladder
Well I'm blowed. Another ad for overactive bladder - which must make the bladder the organ of the month, if not the year.

Not sure what to make of this one. With the handle of the tap virtually invisible within the well-manicured hand, first impressions are that this ad might be for problems more associated with male nether regions.

Whose hand is this meant to be anyway, the doctor or the patient? The pristine tap, which looks like it's never been used, contributes to a generally cold and unreal feel.

NEOCLARITYN - for hayfever
Now here's an ad that really does manage to illustrate a solution. The photography (which looks credibly English) captures the benefit of enjoying a summer morning beautifully, without the immediate prospect of the subject sneezing her head off.

The headline reinforces the message and the tag line gives a good strong product proposition. Difficult to improve on this; the only minor points are whether the repetition of `wake up protected' was really necessary, and I think it would have been better to run the PI somewhere other than in the sky, which tends to create a slightly oppressive feeling.

TEVETEN - for hypertension
Gardening seems to be a popular expression these days of getting on with life, despite having to live with chronic conditions. The Spiriva man with COPD has put down his wheelbarrow, changed his hat and picked up a 'supersized' pair of shears to deal with his hypertension.

Except it isn't actually the hypertension he's cutting, pruning, clipping, cropping, snipping and trimming - it's the drug!

Presumably the word HYPERTENSION was too long to fit on the page - and at least the client cannot complain about the size of the brand name.

Still, it's a fun, engaging approach and illustrates a solution; well, sort of.

2nd September 2008


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