In rare-disease marketing, the creative stakes are high. Rare diseases are often underdiagnosed and require creative that not only has stopping power but also seeks to raise awareness. Rare diseases also have a devastating impact on the lives of patients and caregivers. Creative for them should therefore contain elements of humanity and compassion. Here, a few that do it well—and some that fall short.
Company: Dyax Corporation
Still one of my all-time most admired campaigns, this ad for Kalbitor, an acute treatment for hereditary angioedema, captures the fear that an HAE attack can occur anytime, leading to asphyxiation. The campaign clearly commands attention, communicates HAE’s emotional burdens and demands that appropriate treatment be available for patients who live each day in fear of the next attack.
Out of the Woods
Company: Salix Pharmaceuticals
Another striking campaign is this one for Xifaxan. It effectively promotes the product while also raising awareness of hepatic encephalopathy’s chronic nature. For discharged patients, future HE episodes are possible. The surrealistic effect of the woods in the living room eerily conveys the danger surrounding the discharged patient and highlights long-term-treatment needs.
Red Blood Cell
Company: Alexion Pharmaceuticals
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is a rare and life-threatening condition in which patients’ red blood cells are constantly destroyed by their body’s own defense system. Here is a campaign that is simple and direct. What’s missing? An emotional connection to a small patient population.
Survival may never get old, but images of smiling, happy patients sure do. For people with advancing cancers, every moment, every day, every year counts. The message is clear but the image fails on stopping power. The writing in the wrinkles is a nice touch but so subtle you could miss it.
Company: Teva Europe
After 15 years on the market, Copaxone steps out with this European campaign. The CGI scene etched in the tread of the hiking boots paired with the headline do it: It has a feel-good vibe and connects with treating multiple sclerosis, which, as stated in the tagline, is for patients to have more “good days, not lost days.”
Company: Novartis Oncology
This blockbuster brand’s long-running campaign is iconic: The stark photo of the fresh surgical incision acknowledges the intensity of the battle that a patient with a gastrointestinal tumor has to undergo. The simplicity of the orange gift box is a beautiful reminder that life is a gift.