For Art’s Sake

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Each month, this department pays homage to memorable advertising and marketing campaigns. The highlighted executions have been identified by leading creative executives for their noteworthy use of copy, art, photography, whimsy, uniqueness, etc. — in combination or as single branding elements. Creating good pharmaceutical advertising and marketing requires agencies to think out of the box and clients who dare to be different. PharmaVOICE is pleased to give these vanguards their due recognition. Brand: Aggrastat Client: Guilford Pharmaceuticals Debut: September 2004 Agency: Abelson-Taylor Inc. Creative Group Director: Josh Vizek Associate Creative Directors: Brad Graetz, Jim Clarke Art Directors: Tommaso Lesnick, Krista Ungerman Copywriters: Bil Boyd, Kaye Kilgore Memorable. How could you flip through the pages of a journal and not stop at this ad? The copy is direct and succinct. A quick hit with a subhead and then two bullets. This is a no-fluff type of ad that reflects a client who’s smart enough to know it’s wise to go in with one clear message, state it, then close with the logo. Simplicity is the best way to sell a product. It forces us to find out what is singularly unique about a brand. How often has an agency been presented with the challenge of nothing new to say about an older brand? In these instances, it’s best to take advantage of the familiar and use it to boil the message down to a single-minded communication. Use the history of the product as the backbone for what doesn’t have to be said. While Aggrastat is not a new product, the creative team for this brand has given it a fresh look. Visually this ad is as easy to understand as the copy it supports. With a very simple line drawing, you know that Aggrastat is an infusion type product; it works to help the heart; and then it gets patients out and about. The expanse of red is a bold and ownable art element. If used consistently, Aggrastat could come to equate to the color red. See red, think Aggrastat. And with FDA requirements that tell us to make the fair balance as large as the text, this ad has managed to place the copy in a discreet manner. It isn’t hidden, but it is designed to be a part of the ad — not an appendage or afterthought. We’re all inundated with consumer advertising — both print and television. I believe influence is what makes this ad so strong. It has taken on sensibilities from the consumer world (and seems to acknowledge that physicians are also consumers) and is presented as an ad that wants to be read. There are no flying orbs in space, no MOA, or trite patient images. I like that! Simplicity is the best way to sell a product, says Jeff Turner, Senior VP, Creative Director, at Carbon, CommonHealth’s Wayne, N.J.-based professional advertising and promotion unit that serves the marketing needs of high-science brands. Nothing! Write about an “Ad I wish I would have done.” Truth is, I was hard-pressed to find one … no kidding! I went to our library and spent more than an hour paging through current periodicals from a wide range of specialties. After spreading them all out over the conference table, there were a few that caught my interest and flirted with conceptually interesting ideas, but soon I sat back in stunned silence at the array of uninspired campaigns that surrounded me. Is there someone selling a software program to pharmaceutical agencies that creates “active, happy patients in a slice-of-life setting, who are better off for having taken our drug” ad campaigns? Is it possible that creatives in agencies handling brands big and small can think of no more compelling, impactful, or memorable way to brand a product and support clinical data than by floating body parts against a glowing horizon or lightning bolts to suggest power or speedboats to tell us a drug is fast-acting? Is it possible that clients have so limited the opportunity for creative exploration by imposing corporate creative biases that smother our industry’s willingness to produce challenging work? Are we becoming content in the belief that ad testing that selects the best of a limited range of mediocre executions, but gives everyone the cover of data to justify sophomoric conceptual work or politically and regulatorily safe promotion is enough to sleep well at night? Hey, I apologize for the rant, because there are good ads out there. And, I’m far from perfect, but if we don’t collectively wake up and do something to ensure that the discovery I made on the way to writing this article becomes the rarity instead of the norm, we are all in trouble. The next ad you see will be a two-page spread of prescribing information with the headline, “Try it if you like, it couldn’t hurt.” Worst of all, PharmaVOICE’s next request for commentary will be, “Tell us how long it’s been since you saw an ad you wish you had done.” Jay Doniger, VP, Creative Director, Donahoe Purohit Miller Inc., Chicago, issues a wake-up call to advertising agency creative executives.

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