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Season of good will

Andy Jones, deputy creative director of Ogilvy Healthworld Advertising London, spreads some good cheer

Christmas crackersIt's not easy, this. Pick up a copy of GP, Pulse, Pharmacy or OTC magazine and see how many ads you find that make you jealous; that make you wish you or your agency had come up with them. They're thin on the ground.

The easy approach to writing this column is to pick five god-awful ads, then tick off a checklist of clichés, puns, muddles, hokey metaphors, baffling concepts and other crimes against advertising.

But, hey, it's almost Christmas. The season for giving. Being jolly.

So, in the spirit of the season, I've picked the best of the ads from the heap of magazines on my desk and resolved to look for the positive. Let's see what Santa has in his sack for us...


EASYHALER — asthma


Easyhaler advertisement

I like this, and so does my wife (don't panic: she's in the bizz. And she's a lot smarter than me. Although nowhere near as pretty). Quality photography, clean art direction, great typography and a snappy, relevant headline with no clichés. What's not to like? The insight — asthmatic kids feel embarrassed about their inhalers — is also fair, so the communication is nicely poignant. On the other hand, the Easyhalers are funky and bright, so was discretion the best way to go? Honestly, I dunno. And with a triple-pronged strapline, I don't think the agency did either.

Nice ad, though.

Candy caneCandy caneCandy cane

Rating: Ho ho ho


ACTIVIA — bloating

The clear, intriguing visual connects neatly to the product (though, interestingly, the word 'yoghurt' is never used). Initially the ad has impact and relevance, but the more I think about it, the more this message seems a little confused — isn't the spoon causing the bloating? Wouldn't this work better if the reflection slimmed the lady? And the photoshopping of the model looks suspect. Hell — my mission to be positive is slipping. It looked fine at first glance, and maybe that's enough. Then again, maybe this ad is one of those really frustrating ones that very nearly works, is very nearly very good — but when it comes to the eating, just doesn't satisfy.

Activia advertisement

Rating: Ho

Candy cane  


Nurofen plus advertisement

Clean art direction. Engaging visual. Nice illustration. Tick, tick, tick. So what's going on? Pain (that's him on the chair — although I'd always imagined him as more ferocious than that) is afraid of the painkiller. Well, you'd hope so: painkillers kill pain. Which, if you were pain, would presumably scare the bejeepers out of you. And the copy is good to know, but it's a pretty slow communication.

I wonder how it would have panned out if they'd made the Nurofen look scary? Or done something else entirely? Still, cool illustration, good stopability (I know, it's not a real word) and a simple communication. It's just a shame the content doesn't live up to the style.

  Candy caneCandy cane

Rating: Ho h...


NICORETTE INHALATOR — smoking cessation

The Man With No Name is now the Man With No Cigarette. Crisp photography and good casting make a simple, arresting visual that's kind of amusing. (Although I suspect the fact it looks a bit silly might be a barrier to some using an inhalator.) The headline borrows the language of the genre to make a simple point about efficacy and the strapline communicates a straightforward benefit in a fast, memorable way. But smoking cessation is a pretty crowded area, and sadly, I don't think this ad has given me a reason to choose this inhalator over the various gums, lozenges, patches, full-on medication and other fag-like devices on the market.

Nicorette inhalator advertisement

Rating: Ho ho

Candy caneCandy cane

VICTOZA — diabetes

Victoza advertisement

I know I said I'd pick only the finest treats for my festive selection pack, but as the world's finest purveyor of pithy snippets once said: 'I can resist everything but temptation.' This ad urges us to 'do more than lower blood glucose'. How? Why, with a tree-lollipop, of course. We've all seen the sugar metaphor in diabetes before — so I get why the lolly is there. But the tree? The lollipop tree? The best Me and Mrs Jones could come up with is that it's something to do with root causes – although that's never mentioned in the copy. And, yes, I did read it. It is a very yummy looking lolly though.


Rating: It's Christmas, have a lollipop



Andy Jones - Ogilvy HealthworldThe Author
Andy Jones,
deputy creative director of Ogilvy Healthworld Advertising London

To comment on this article, email 

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




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5th January 2011


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