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Doctor knows best

Those of you who are expecting a cynical appraisal of your efforts will probably be disappointed, as for the most part these reviews are rather complimentary

As is now expected of us for the December issue of Pharmaceutical Marketing, we are abandoning the traditional formula for Ad Lib.

In recent years we turned to industry marketers and managing directors to deliver their views on the quality of the healthcare advertising that has populated the pages of medical journals during the year.

This time, however, we decided to take this table-turning exercise one step further and asked a GP what he thinks about product ads.

Those of you, both client and agency, who are expecting a cynical appraisal of your efforts will probably be disappointed, as for the most part these reviews are rather complimentary.

Even those which stop short of singing your praises will provide food for thought. After all,
these are the impartial views (the doc' got nothing in return for his opinions) of a member of your most influential target customer group.

The fact that doctors are unlikely to be wowed by fantastic photography and do not have the time to figure out complex messages is not their bad luck, it's the industry's challenge.

Doctors are known for being logical creatures who seldom, if ever, bother to unravel the tapestry of a creative concept, no matter how great it is.

So, may I now introduce Dr Paul Bates, who has generously given his time to reveal the medic's take on some of 2005's healthcare advertising.

Click on images for a largerview

Premique - for HRT
premiqueKnow the drug, seen the rep, looked at the ad.

While this is a pretty picture it bears no relevance at all to the product, which I have always associated with pregnant horses, not a cute little leopard on a throne.

The headline doesn't help it to make sense either; I'm still trying to connect 'Heir to the throne' with this product.

In terms of information, you get the usual standard data but nothing to make this treatment stand out in a noisy marketplace. It simply takes too much effort to decipher the message.

- for BPH
I like this; it instantly attracts your attention and is pertinent to the product. I find it amusing.

The spray of water works well in leading your eyes down to the right-hand corner of the page, just above the product name. The bullet points work to make clearly visible the relevant information that doctors are interested in.

My immediate thought was that the bird bath should actually have been an aspidistra plant as this would have taken me back to my student days.

- for hypertension
Ooops... having seen this, I will now always associate Cozaar with one of the biggest disasters the world witnessed in the 20th Century. I understand that they are trying to say that a stroke is a disaster, but surely this ad is about providing a remedy.

As there is little chance of surviving in freezing cold water surrounded by icebergs with nothing but a life belt for company, I don't get the connection. Most of the victims of Titantic didn't go down on the vessel: they froze in the water. Thirty minutes or less is hardly lifesaving.

The bullet points are succinct and eye-catching, but then so is the sinking ship, which draws your eye away from the man being 'saved' in the life belt! This is a great product but is wrongly presented here.

- for depression
When I saw this ad, I immediately associated with it and the aims of the product. The message here is simple and effective (useful for a simple, time-poor GP), and the information is broad and comprehensive.

Antidepressant medications have to compete in a crowded market, where GPs usually confine their prescribing to no more than six preparations.

With this in mind, it is important that the ad is striking, making the product and message memorable.

- for anal fissures
Ouch. This ad portrays the agony of this condition brilliantly - it makes me wince each time I see it - with every barb on the wire generating sympathy for the patient.

Any new preparation to ease this painful condition is more than welcome. However, on the ad I saw (one-third of the page), detailed information on the product was sparse. I (and I'm sure many other GPs would feel the same), certainly do not have the time, or the inclination in all honesty, to request in writing further information on Rectogesic as the ad invites you to do in very small type in the left-hand corner.

The absence of clinical data and prescribing information is a serious oversight.

flu jabsFlu jabs
- for frontline NHS staff
I couldn't resist saying a few words on this. It's really refreshing to see an amusing, simple and informative ad that shows concern for my health (as well as that of my patients) as a GP.

In fact, it was this advert that inspired me to have my own flu jab. Well done the NHS.

2nd September 2008


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