It’s intriguing to see how people solve communication problems. And because medical devices have unique marketing challenges, they offer a variety of creative opportunities.

Unlike pharmaceutical campaigns, device ads need to do more than encourage trial—they need to solidify purchase. Since most device manufacturers lack the budget for broad-based marketing, device ads must often make their messages work with multiple audiences.

At HCB, we work across therapeutic device categories and like to keep an eye on what others are doing in the field. Let’s look at some creative approaches other agencies have taken to help make a product jump off the page.

Cognitive dissonance
Equanox Advance neonatal/pediatric sensors
Agency: Vita Group
Client: Nonin

Creepily effective is how I view this ad. I want to look away, but I can’t. I applaud the agency that got this through as it definitely has stopping power. But though it may have high recall, will I want to buy this product or will I want to do my best to forget it?

Visually demonstrable
Endo GIA surgical stapler
Client: Covidien

I love this approach to device marketing. The product is solving a problem that is itself clearly evident. The creative team chose to demonstrate tissue thickness in words rather than photography, making the stapler even more prominent.

Elegantly metaphorical
FST surgical equipment
Client: Fine Science Tools

A great use of a metaphor without going over the top. In fact, this is just one of a number of similarly executed ads that leave a positive impression on the reader. Instead of a list of features, one metaphor does it all. Nicely done.

Lifestyle reimagined
ParaGard IUD
Agency: STRIKEFORCE Communications
Client: Teva Women’s Health

Taking a lifestyle approach is an obvious choice for a birth control campaign, but this ad rethinks the traditional execution. It’s the clever headline juxtaposed with the engaging illustration that caught my eye.  The art demonstrates that this woman is an individual, which is why she chose ParaGard.

Borrowed interest
SonoSite point-of-care ultrasound
Agency: TBWAChiatDay
Client: SonoSite

When you have nothing new to say, say it in a way that borrows from culture to stand out. We’ve all seen movie poster parodies, most of them poorly executed. But this ad looks pretty legit. Great art direction for an ad that could have been a big flop. Two thumbs up.

Go simple
O’Regan System nonsurgical hemorrhoid removal
Agency: Station X
Client: CRH Medical

Not sure how to address a sensitive topic? No dollars for fancy photography? Keep it simple, stupid.  This concept is smart in so many ways without trying too hard. I smiled so big my cheeks turned red.

Kerry Hilton is president and CEO of HCB Health.