Private View: Colleen Brett

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Colleen Brett, Creative director at Tonic Life Communications
Colleen Brett, Creative director at Tonic Life Communications

Perhaps working in the pharmaceutical industry for too many years has numbed me, but I feel that most people are over the ads as much as I am. I can barely tune in enough to register which drug an ad is for or who the client is. And I totally get it—there have been so many instances where what starts out as an amazingly creative idea dies a slow death at the hands of an iron-fisted legal department. But the ­purpose of the ad should not get lost in boring creative. 

At Tonic we strive to empower patients from a PR standpoint but share the same frustrations as any ad agency. How do we get people's attention and both individualize our message and make it relevant and impactful? There's a new trend that's doing a great job at doing just that—making the message personal and relatable so that the right person listens up. 

Here are a few ads that have tapped into this strategy—some that impress and others that fade into the background.


Company: Teva Oncology

This ad's simplicity is clever and striking. It takes a scary disease with an unpleasant treatment and eclipses the negativity with tenderness by humanizing the woman. She is someone's mother first and foremost; cancer is secondary, but treatment is a priority.

Not Your Mother's ­Cataract Surgery

Company: Alcon

These “everyday” people look honest and authentic. The family photos that they're holding only further legitimize the humanity of the ad and give a gentle push toward considering new surgical technology.

Mr. Independence

Company: Salix

Gritty photography and eroded typography make this ad stand apart from the rest. The headline should resonate with anyone who has a man in their life—dad, husband, friend. We can all relate to the resistance a lot of guys put up when it comes to going to a doctor.

What I Enjoy

Company: Pfizer

This woman's hobby is baking cookies and even she looks bored with the whole thing. Her lack of expression matches the lack of interest in the overall design—even fresh out of the oven, there's nothing warm about this concept.

Family Tradition

Company: AstraZeneca

The picture here looks like it was pulled right out of a family album: It captures a moment we'd all like to have in the kitchen of someone who loves us. But the stark background, rather than focusing the visual, makes the ad feel boring, plain and easy to pass right on by.

I Am …

Company: Forest Pharmaceuticals

The couple pictured is really sweet—it makes you happy this guy has such a nurturing woman looking out for him. The handwriting personalizes the sentiment and looks like real handwriting, as opposed to overused handwriting fonts.

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