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Forceful communication

Carl Elliott and Linda Dunn from Adventis Health take a lightsaber to bad advertising

David Hunt and David Whittingham - Creative LynxWhat with the wettest July we can remember and, at the time of writing, a very changeable August, naturally our minds turn to sunshine, holidays and ... Star Wars. Well, with all the doom and gloom of the credit crunch and the weather, what wouldn't we give to have a little extra something on our side? Maybe 'the Force' is the answer.

The Force is defined as "an omnipresent form of energy with binding, metaphysical and ubiquitous power". Couldn't we all do with a bit of that in our daily battle to get great ideas past the many obstacles thrown in our path?

Last year, a survey of approximately 2,000 film fans found the lightsaber to be the most popular film weapon, so with lightsabers at the ready, Carl "Skywalker" Elliott and "Princess Leia" Dunn invite you to consider which of these creatives used the Force for good and which ideas really should have been taken out by Darth Vader and the stormtroopers. Or, as Yoda might ask, "Advertising good it is?"

DULCOLAX (ITALY) - Constipation

A Dulcolax advert


We're not sure quite what it is about laxatives that inspires work which is sublimely simple and communicates everything in very few words (in this case none). We surely all remember the superb award-winning campaign for Idrolax (the toilet paper dolly holding its nose), which also had minimal copy. A minor niggle is that, traditionally, the cork is associated with stopping up, but in this case it has obviously escaped from the bottle – perhaps with some force. Whatever the provenance of this ad, the Force is certainly with it.
Three lightsabers 3 lightsabers


MEZAVANT XL - Ulcerative Colitis

Once upon a time, there was a potentially nice, albeit somewhat clichéd, image of two people enjoying remission from their disease, when all of a sudden it was totally overwhelmed by the Dark Side – in the form of absurdly large type crashing down over the image and destroying any sense of the freedom that it was attempting to convey. The copy is both too large and too long. It could have been so much better. All it needed to say was: "Discover the day – Mezavant XL towards complete remission in mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis". As for "multi matrix system technology"... Lord Vader, where are you? A Mezavant XL advert

1 lightsaber

A lightsaber

LOTEMAX - Post-op Eye Inflammation

A Lotemax advert Oh dear. We seem to have travelled back in time to when the first Star Wars film came out (1977), if not earlier. It's hard to know where to begin. OK, there's an eye in there, fair enough, but then we have a honeycomb across the top, a faint molecular structure, a series of numbers, which might be counting up or down (except 14 and 15 are missing), some factual copy and PI, all plonked on the page. The logo looks like an afterthought in the top left corner and even that has a drop instead of the second letter, so we're not immediately sure what the name is. It might just pass as a page from a sales aid. "Advertising good it not is!"
No lightsabers


PROTOPIC - Atopic Eczema

The concept of animals and taming is not new (remember the gorilla and GORD), but this is a nice way of tackling it. Strictly speaking, the image is not one of taming, as the tiger appears to be aggressively scratching the boy's throat. The copy is very repetitive, with the second bullet being identical to the sub-head. Also, we are not sure why the ad is split in half. More of the boy should be seen as there are acres of white space in the bottom half, with just a couple of logos that look rather lost. However, some Force has been at work here. A Protopic advert

2 lightsabers

Two lightsabers

ENBREL - Psoriasis

An Enbrel advert An excellent depiction of a well-understood metaphor. Although molluscs can engender a certain "yuck" factor, the psoriasis patient literally "coming out of his shell" is a striking way of communicating that he feels able to face the world now that his psoriasis is under control. The headline and payoff say everything that needs to be said without reams of superfluous body copy to spoil the clean simplicity. The only issue we have with this ad is that the patient is male. Psoriasis affects both sexes equally and undoubtedly women are more concerned and self-conscious about their skin and appearance. The Force has definitely been employed, though.
Two lightsabers 2 lightsabers

The Authors
Carl Elliott is deputy creative director and Linda Dunn is senior copywriter at Adventis Health
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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30th September 2009


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