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Ad Lib blog

Creative critiques of pharma and healthcare ads and campaigns

Visceral vision

Branding ideas that hit a nerve

What makes for a truly brilliant idea in today's oversubscribed and chaotic world? It possesses something I call 'visceral vision'. 

When an idea is brought to life authentically and weaves itself organically into a person's worldview, it can't help but hit a nerve. It creates a visceral experience. And it touches the customer in a deep and relevant way to forge a relationship and ignite the brand. 

Ideas with 'visceral vision' possess a creative tension, or call it magic, that you can truly feel. And they also are executed in a way that fits seamlessly into their audience's lives. Sometimes without them even knowing it.

In judging global awards in recent years, a handful of ideas have had this effect on me. They're top-of-mind because they are truly unique in their approach—in some cases first of their kind—or they have potential to be industry-shaping. When I think about why, the same two words apply: visceral vision.

Visceral vision #1



Organ donation (Kidney)- Foundation for Life

Organ donation (Kidney)
Foundation for Life
Ogilvy, Germany

This organ donation campaign features the jarring image of an actual dialysis patient waiting for a kidney, not in a clinic but on a bustling train platform in Germany. The idea used the notion of waiting for a train as a metaphor for waiting for a kidney; the irony is that you wait a few minutes for something as mundane as a train, while you could wait years for a kidney transplant. Commuters stopped and felt Michael’s struggle in a real and visceral way. By creating a fully integrated, authentically visceral experience, with a built-in call to action, this campaign literally stopped people in their tracks and forced them to take notice of Michael’s cause. 

English/Case Study Version

Visceral vision #2



Primetime Fitness

Primetime Fitness
Leo Burnett, Frankfurt

Another idea that continues to resonate is the ‘Don’t get fat boy’ campaign. The idea is quite simple, yet has tremendous vision and visceral pull-through. The idea was to jolt people out of complacency (their seats) and into the gym with an overweight hairy body imprinted onto a Fatboy (beanbag-like) chair. These Fatboy seats were deliberately placed in building lobbies and outdoor cafés throughout Frankfurt. It was a frank attention-getter very cleverly disguised in humour. Just seeing the life-size overweight body as a seat makes you never want to sit down again. The idea was big but with minute attention to detail; they even used the seat label to cleverly brand the seat. This campaign succeeded by addressing a very real problem in a surprising context.

Visceral vision #3:




Young and Rubicam, Italy

The third example, ‘Adopt a Village’ with the yoghurt brand Danacol was quite spirited and tactile. It broke through by mobilizing an entire community to adopt the product, and adopt better health, in real time. Through this campaign, villagers came together physically, emotionally, and spiritually to adopt a healthier way of being and create a healthier community. It was a visceral and organic experience that felt genuine, because the product was organically integrated into everyday life. 

These three brilliant ideas are quite different, but they all come from a deep understanding of who their customer is, how they live, and how their brand can fit in. Visceral vision begins with understanding the customer and their daily experiences, and inserting the brand experience holistically and organically into their lives so that it has the power to touch them viscerally.

Article by
Elizabeth Elfenbein

Partner and Creative Leader at The CementBloc, a Member of the Indigenus Network

19th September 2013

From: Marketing, Healthcare



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