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Cover stories

Justin Earl from Seven Stones decides which ads make the best-sellers list

Justin Earl, creative director, Seven StonesEvery brand has a story to tell and the success of a brand is ultimately down to how you tell, and sell, that story.

Stories can seduce, entertain and inform. They can engage our heads and our hearts.

The beauty of stories is that, unlike facts and figures, people will remember and retell them. This not only works with your target audience, but is very useful for reps as well who are, after all, storytellers.

Press ads are just one medium we can use to set up and tell a story and become, in a sense, the book covers of the brand. Like book covers, press ads are meant to get your attention immediately and make you want to look more closely. They give you the opportunity to build up the story, spark conversation and incite debate.

Book covers can be iconic, intriguing, sophisticated, funny and clever, but they can also be generic.

So, what kind of stories do these 'book covers' tell?

DESMOMELT - Bedwetting



There's a good, strong story behind this ad. Handled in the right way, the psychological and social impact of bedwetting could be an emotive tale to tell.

What's wrong here is the tone of voice. It lacks empathy. The headline leaves me feeling confused and uncomfortable and wondering if this boy is actually a victim of abuse. And for such a sensitive subject, the art direction is bland and unsympathetic.

Maybe it would have been more interesting to explore the contrast between a harsh, aggressive headline and more optimistic and empathetic art direction?

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A story leading with a product feature can be difficult to pull off in an engaging way, but this execution manages to do just that.

The quirky conceptualisation of the small airways, and the illustrative style, have a book cover quality which, with its unusually sinister tone, makes a refreshing change in the area of asthma.

It's intriguing. It tees up the viewer for the story that follows, and it makes you want to read on. The copy style is direct and brings you with it. That said, I think the headline could be a little more connected to the visual and the typography could be a bit more expressive.



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BETESIL - Psoriasis


I think this is a brave attempt to inject some humour into an arena where it is notoriously hard to do so well. Humour can be a great way to grab attention and this ad does just that.

It takes you by surprise – you don't expect it, so you find yourself reading it again, if only to make sure you read it correctly in the first place. Whether doctors will see the funny side is another thing, and it's what they think that will ultimately decide whether this ad succeeds or fails.

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AMIAS - Hypertension and heart failure

Amias clearly wants to challenge perceptions and change opinion, but in order to do so, it needs an ad that can cut through – an ad with an execution to match its provocative positioning. Unfortunately, in this case, a potentially exciting story falls flat with delivery.

The art direction is uninspiring when considering the demands of such a challenging strategy. As well as using the well-trod crossed fingers imagery to convey uncertainty, it feels negative and ominous.

AMIAS advert

1 bookmark

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UNGUENTUM M - Dry skin

UNGUENTUM M Advert A classic problem-solution story well executed with a degree of sophistication. A striking, if not little clichéd, visual gets your attention and holds it because of the level of detail. It feels modern, uncluttered and self-assured. Less is more and in this case, it leaves you wanting to know more. In terms of book covers – this one does its job.
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The Author
Justin Earl is creative director at Seven Stones
To comment on this article, email

Ad Lib is a creative critique of healthcare ads and does not take into account the marketing objectives behind the campaigns reviewed.

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12th November 2009


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