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Quality rating

Although we live in uncertain times, we can predict with conviction that when you read this it will be cold, dark and gloomily depressing

Lyn Wallace, Sal Tavkar and Rob McLeanAlthough we live in uncertain times, we can predict with conviction that when you read this it will be cold, dark and gloomily depressing. For this reason we've opted for a little light relief with our Ad Lib and gone in search of creative works designed to make us smile.

Our quality rating system takes inspiration from the remnants of the pre-Christmas Quality Street box. It's mid-January as we write this, but in spite of broken diets, official announcements of 'Blue Monday' and the downward spiral into recession, the 'orange crunches' are not moving from the tin. Why the people at Quality Street continue to put these ones in remains one of life's mysteries. Like some creative ideas, no amount of re-wrapping will make them good.

Creativity is one of the brand's greatest weapons in an economic downturn. It has been proven to build brand equity even in the absence of media spend. So our collective call to all this year is to sharpen your wit as well as your pencils and go for the 'big purple one'.

The author:
Lyn Wallace, is managing director of Wallace HCL. She is pictured with creatives Sal Tavkar and Rob McLean.

Cymex - Treatment of cold sores

Cymex - Treatment of cold sores

The best agencies, like the best comedians, know that timing and delivery is everything. That is why this ad from Woolley Pau is so perfect. The reader is drawn in by the pretty – but not too pretty – girl and the easy intimacy of the moment (was the photographer her boyfriend perhaps?) The skill of the crop and colour combine to make this a mini work of art. Then you notice the punch line – at the point where her cold sore would have been: 'It's nice to have him staring at my boobs again'. Very sweet. 

A lesser agency might have handled this differently, they might even have been tempted to show some cleavage. To see more of her would have been to lose the punchline.

Purple Quality Street sweet Conclusion: Definitely the big purple one.


Benylin Day - Colds and flu

The Benylin Day campaign came up for quite a bit of stick from employers when it launched at the end of last year, and we're afraid to say we don't like it either. No doubt the concept takes its inspiration from the 'duvet day' and therein lies the problem. While duvet days are widely recognised as a legitimate excuse to bunk off when you're not really ill, Benylin is supposed to be a product that works. 

So for the majority who struggle to work with a cold and find it 'un-British' to wimp off, the jokes on the Benylin Day website will soon wear pretty thin. This reminds us of those slightly fluffy ideas the PRs come up with to try and persuade journos to mention their brand. It has some fun ideas, a couple of good one-liners, but overall it misses the point.
We suggest the team all take a Benylin Day and come back and start again.

Benylin Day - Colds and flu

Conclusion: The orange crunches (all of them).

5 Orange Quality Street sweets


 Balneum Plus - Treatment of itching and dry skin

Balneum Plus - Treatment of itching and dry skin

For those in the healthcare profession who must be quite used to a gorilla with an itch walking into the surgery, this is bound to raise an eyebrow and we think a little smile. 

Unlike the other gorilla ad currently doing the rounds, however, the creative team here had to work a bit harder to get its message across. Even so, we feel it could be sharper. The idea is great, but it relies almost completely on the image, meaning it really should be good. Assuming a photo shoot wasn't an option here, then a little more time spent in Photoshop might have paid off. The headline isn't really doing the job either, no doubt the question mark gets around the issue of substantiating a claim but this, combined with the fact that it's stuck at the top of the page, makes it looks almost apologetic. A different crop on the image and a bigger, bolder heading and this ad would look at bit more finished.

Yellow Quality Street sweet Conclusion: A toffee penny – needs a day chewing it over.


Sudafed - Nasal/sinus congestion 

We've taken two ads from the same Sudafed campaign for our final review, both presumably penned from the same brief. We think this is a good example of how we like a laugh, however, not if it's at the expense of others.

The first depicts a woman at her desk enduring both a sinus headache and an irritating colleague on the phone to her friend. After taking a Sudafed, she releases a hurricane force and blows her colleague backwards through the office wall. This moment of schoolboy slapstick is intended to show what we'd all like to do to people we don't like, but the fact is most of us are more tolerant than that. We're left feeling slightly uncomfortable by this ad, perhaps it's a reminder of how vulnerable we all feel in these times when the economy is making fools of the best of us.

Sudafed - Nasal/sinus congestion

Conclusion: Having said that, some people loved this, which is why we've awarded it a coconut eclair.

Blue Quality Street sweet



Sudafed - Nasal/sinus congestion

By contrast, Sudafed's sister ad depicts a man on a train who, having cleared his nasal passages, inadvertently sucks his pen up his nose. His fellow passengers smile empathetically at his embarrassment. This is soft, gentle humour that doesn't need to try too hard to make us smile and also happens to tell us more about the product.

Green Quality Street sweet Conclusion: We award it the green triangle.


For qualification of our rating system visit

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
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24th February 2009


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