Sound Healthcare's Hack Delves Into Ads With Great Strategy

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“Creative without strategy is called ‘art.' Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising,'” so states advertising scholar Jef Richards—and I completely agree. As creatives, if we're not executing off a strategy that leverages a customer insight, we're pretty much just talking to ourselves. If you've been in this business long enough, odds are you've produced Archive-quality ads you thought were going to absolutely kill in market research only to see them die a horrible death. Why? It's often because a customer simply didn't connect with the idea. A great strategy humanizes a customer insight by tapping into a universal human truth. The result is almost always creative that resonates with customers. These ads do just that.

Campaign: Donut
Company: Janssen
Agency: McCann Mexico City

People pee in places other than the bathroom all the time—like in pools, for instance. (Not me, though). This product helps diabetics pass excess glucose through urine. Here, that excreted sugar takes the form of a floating donut that brilliantly illustrates how the product works in a way that's completely relatable.

Campaign: Natural Killer
Company: Bristol-Myers Squibb
Agency: BGB Group

Your Aunt Betty might not be a homicidal maniac (though she does make a killer tuna casserole), but her immune system has the potential to take out multiple myeloma. The surprising juxtaposition of art and copy draws us in by playing with our established perceptions.

Campaign: Lost Forever
Company: Salix Pharmaceuticals
Agency: CDM New York

This provocative image of a patient slowly disintegrating presents a powerful metaphor for the cognitive effects of hepatic encephalopathy. The image taps directly into our own fear of loss and our instinct for self-preservation. Talk about a call to action!

Campaign: Barbed Wire
Company: Pfizer
Agency: CDM New York

When menopausal intercourse is painful, the bedroom can seem like a war zone. The presence of barbed wire is completely out of place and visualizes precisely what the condition feels like for patients: an impassable barrier to intimacy.

Campaign: True Cost
Company: Bayer
Agency: Langland UK
A quick glance here and nothing seems out of the ordinary. So what? We brush our teeth every day. But a slightly closer look reveals a hand that doesn't belong in the scene, symbolizing the loss of independence and personal dignity for patients with multiple sclerosis spasticity.

Campaign: Desperate Turds
Company: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals
Agency: McCann Shanghai

Anyone who has suffered with constipation will tell you it can be agonizingly painful and frustrating. It almost seems as if your body is holding itself prisoner. This ad captures the feeling perfectly by flipping the story and telling it from a, shall we say, unique perspective.

Jeff Hack is managing partner and creative director at Sound Healthcare Communications.

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