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Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns


Simplicity lies at the heart of the three award-winning campaigns reviewed by Arron O'Hare in this latest Ad Lib

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend a certain ad awards ceremony in London recently.

Instead, I sent along a couple of trusted lieutenants to recce the opposition, check out the work and hog the free table wine.

Following dispatches from my bleary-eyed and slightly pale-looking men the following morning, I am happy to report that, whilst us Brits are putting up a typical display of stiff-upper-lipped derring-do, there has also been an insurgence of great creativity from some of the chaps overseas.

This is most encouraging because, in order to push our own creative frontiers, we often need to look elsewhere for influence. We're only a tiny, little island after all, and a little healthy competition never did anyone any harm.

When looking through the glossy dossier of the evening's winners, I noticed that the victors all shared a common ground – simplicity.

The winning work has been stripped right back, baring the very core of the idea without the aid of smoke and mirrors.

Of course crafted copy, high production values and strategic insight all have their rightful place in the sum of great creativity, yet home and abroad it appears that simplicity is the key to victory, particularly when communicating in something other than your mother tongue.

With this in mind and in the face of some stiff overseas competition, I think the path to glory is to keep calm, carry on and keep it simple.

Zip it up! – Impact




Zip it up! – Impact

Agency: McCann Health Singapore

I once heard that superglue was invented to quickly patch up the wounds of injured GIs on the battlefields of Vietnam. Whether this is true or not doesn’t matter – it’s still a good story, but surely there’s a fast way of healing cuts that won’t result in sticking your own thumb and forefinger together?

Apparently, there is. What better way is there of healing a wound than simply zipping it up? 

The simplistic and immediate visual doesn’t really need anything else to explain it and the three words tucked away above the logo are almost unnecessary. You could do away with them and still have an idea of what the ad is communicating.

Blood can do more – blood donation programme



Blood can do more – blood donation programme

Agency: McCann Health China

As a reluctant blood donor, comedian Tony Hancock once remonstrated with a doctor that, “It may be just a smear to you, but it’s a matter of life or death to some of us.” How right he was as this ad beautifully demonstrates. 

This is part of an integrated yet uncomplicated campaign that stops you and makes you think. 

The delicate slice of life vignette illustrated within the blood drop is culturally fitting, delicate and at the same time, striking in its simplicity. The headline is clever, pithy, poetic and feels strangely matter of fact.

To coin another famous ad, these are strong words, softly spoken.

Detect early – Alzheimer’s Australia




Detect early – Alzheimer’s Australia

Agency: Ward 6

The best disease awareness ads put you in the shoes of the patient or carer and make you actually feel something of their plight. This does just that.

Alzheimer’s Disease, as we all know, can be devastating. In its later stages it can render the sufferer unable to respond to their environment. 

This ad cleverly and subtly shows an early warning sign, which if recognised and acted upon, can help the sufferer by slowing down the progression of their illness with appropriate treatment.

I love the everyday normality of the photography – it’s gritty, visceral and what makes this ad so powerful and affecting.

Article by
Arron O'Hare

creative director, PAN

22nd August 2013

From: Marketing



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