Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Packs a punch

Design director at Life Healthcare Communications, Ben Blackmore, goes in search of the 'pow' factor

A set of boxing gloves against a white backgroundSome time back, while enjoying a rare glass of beer with a friend of mine who runs a very creative consumer advertising agency, he let slip the comment: "There's no good design in pharma advertising".

With an ND, HND, BA (Hons) degree under my belt and having come from a consumer-based background into 15 years of pharma advertising myself, it has always been my goal to ensure everything we create is grounded in good design principles. But does this apply across the board? I thought I would take a look at the campaigns that got a mention at the recent PM Society Awards to see if any 'good design' had made it into the selection. Taking into account the concept as a whole, use of photography, typography, fonts, logo positions and overall design, does the final piece deliver its key messages clearly using good original creativity and, ultimately, is it a great piece of design?

Being an old school kung fu fan, I thought it might be nice to score the creative design content on the 'POW' factor!


PEGASYS, ROCHE – treatment of Hepatitis C

Pegasys and Roche's advert for a hepatitis C treatment

I love the time and money that was quite clearly spent on crafting such a clever piece of art direction and photography to deliver such an impactful visual. The old 'pi design problem' has been addressed nicely by creating the letterbox effect and shifting the pi out of any focus of the main concept. Overall, it delivers a nice tie-in to the old campaign, executed beautifully with some really nice typography to boot.


Bruce Lee's face accompanied by three 'pow' graphics

Bruce Lee at his best! Straight in there with a kick-ass 'POW POW POW' and a big thumbs up for good design in pharma ads


BETESIL – medicated plaster

Did the designer lose control of the bevelled box tool when creating this? Or has the layout been controlled by the branding police? Did they create some handy guidelines to work within? Bevelled box for the image in position 1. Bevelled purple box for the headline to be in position 2. White bevelled box for the logo in position 3 to help it stand out.
The concept itself is quite nice, but the jovial delivery of the key message for this product has been lost in some very box happy design.


Betesil's advert for a medicated plaster 

A Chuck Norris, in your face with some 'POW' for a nice concept, but my thoughts are with the poor designer who had to work within these guidelines. I feel for you

  Chuck Norris' face accompanied by one 'pow' graphic

WATERGENIE – portable shower system

An advert for Watergenie's portable shower system

Unfortunately I fear this concept might have come up against the 'challenge wall' of a brief which said "show the product being used". How can you make a giant blow up blue bed, a nurse of correct ethnicity and a patient type look good? I would suggest convincing the client to invest in some real-life situation photography rather than opting for the more cost-effective studio shoot. This may have helped the design of this concept, but unfortunately this execution falls flat on its face and does not deliver good design.

  Chuck Norris' face accompanied by one 'pow' graphic

Another Chuck Norris, probably a box office smash for cost effectiveness and potential RoI, but not a piece of design work to take home and show your mum


SMA – infant milk

Although the concept itself has been done a few times before (shadow of main character transforming into something else) the really clean and white set helps the photography to highlight the colour in the baby's face and hands. A simple, clear headline with a nice logo position and body copy help to finish off an ad, which is nice overall and calming to look at.


SMA's advert for infant milk 

An enjoyable Jackie Chan 'POW, POW'. Pleasing to watch, but the concept has been used before

Jackie Chan's face accompanied by two 'pow' graphics

COMPASS – treatment of Hepatitis C

Compass' advert for hepatitis C

A picture can, and does, speak a thousand words in this concept. Elegant lighting with a nice pastel render to the photography helps to highlight the plight oth the lost patient. There is nice use of a simple typeface above a clear and well-positioned logo. Great to see some clients and other designers do believe a logo doesn't need to be BIGGER to be prominent!

A kick-ass Bruce Lee 'POW, POW, POW' and proof that there is good design in some pharma advertising.

 Bruce Lee's face accompanied by three 'pow' graphics  


A kick-ass Bruce Lee 'POW, POW, POW' and proof that there is good design in some pharma advertising


Ben BlackmoreThe Author
Design director at Life Healthcare Communications - Ben Blackmore - goes in search of the 'pow' factor.

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.


Related Links

Take a look at a range of adverts from multiple agencies in The Gallery
Use Find-a-Service to find the agency that meets your needs

29th April 2010


Subscribe to our email news alerts

Featured jobs


Add my company
Blue Latitude Health

Blue Latitude Health is a creative marketing consultancy. Founded in 2003, our combination of heritage, approach and capability gives us...

Latest intelligence

Influenza – the risk to vulnerable populations
Why we can't get complacent about flu vaccination...
Alzheimer’s Research UK highlights socio-economic inequalities in dementia risk
The charity aims to improve the number of women participating in dementia research and grow awareness of dementia risk factors...
Data security
Concerns about data security are building a strong case for clinical mobility in EMEA
Electronic medical records have transformed the storage of sensitive information but how can the healthcare sector continue to protect patient and staff data?...