Carling Communications' Sherri Wilkins on 6 MS ads that offer promise

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As disease awareness initiatives and the demand for patient education continue to rise, our industry has witnessed a correlative global upswing in advertising that feels like patient advocacy, evoking the emotions of living with a disease in everyday life even while marketing a brand.

Here, I focus on ads that have messages of promise surrounding products that treat multiple sclerosis. While MS can take a marked toll on patients and families, the message of optimism has never been more profound.

Sherri Wilkins is chief creative officer at Carling Communications, a member of the Fishawack Group of Companies.

See also: Biogen recruits Jamie-Lynn Sigler for Tecfidera campaign



Brand: Aubagio
Company: Sanofi Genzyme

While simple in design and illustration, this ad connotes a new option for patients living with the most common type of MS. Approved by the FDA in 2012, Aubagio was the second-to-market oral treatment for relapsing remitting MS that offered patients a more convenient and private way to treat their disease. The “hush-hush” finger-over-lips visual implies a dual patient sentiment of not wanting to “announce” their condition, as well as symptom control; this visual can still be seen in the Aubagio campaign today, five years after approval.



Brand: Tecfidera
Company: Biogen
Agency: CDMiConnect

Tecfidera was the third-to-market pill for RMS in the U.S., introducing another perspective on treatment. This ad shows a common theme in advertising — an active person living her life in a rather carefree fashion. The upside for this ad is that it implies the concept of normal living and a reduction in relapses; however, due to the potentially unstable nature of RMS, the thing to watch here is the potential overpromise of what the drug can actually do for an individual.



Brand: Copaxone
Company: Teva U.K.

Copaxone represents another method of treating RMS, via injection. This ad hints at a patient's potential ability to resume normal activities with treatment. Without showing a person or depicting a specific activity, Copaxone created the idea of possibilities, while the copy clearly notes that any saved day is a good one, perhaps a more realistic take on a very unpredictable disease.



Brand: Gilenya
Company: Novartis

Most ads for RMS treatments over the years feature female patients, because more women are affected by RMS than men. This ad gives equal notice to both genders, while continuing the common aspirational theme of maintaining an active lifestyle. The bright brand color and crisp photography have always been differentiating for Gilenya, and while the concept itself is conventional, these brand attributes are well played to be highly recognizable and memorable.



Campaign: MS disease awareness
Company: Roche

Two ads — one U.S.-driven and one global — use a similar concept to quickly depict how MS affects the central nervous system with a “flicker,” while simultaneously hinting at the promise of “shining a light” before all is lost to disease progression. These ads teased that Roche and Genentech, which is part of the Roche Group, were on the forefront of Ocrevus, a recently FDA-approved treatment for two types of MS, including RMS and primary-progressive MS, the latter for which there has never been an approved treatment option.

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