Global Style

Nov 01, 2006

The Rx Club Awards was conceived 20 years ago as a celebration of the most creative pharmaceutical advertising campaigns. This year, the buzz surrounded the sheer volume of international entrants, many of which walked away with first- and second-place honors, and the push for powerful images over text-heavy ads. Of the nearly 2,000 submissions, 40 gold and silver winners stand out as benchmarks for design and originality in pharma marketing.

A Foreign Affair

Since its inception, the Rx Club Awards have honored agencies from the United States and abroad. But this year more than others, judges were especially impressed with the pharma ad work being done globally, particularly in India.

"There seemed to be a broader range of international entries," says Rx Club Awards founder Ina Kramer. "We had so many foreign countries participating."

An influx of ads from India, Australia, and South America raised the creative bar on a worldwide level.

"India is right now on a boom," says Anand Krishna, associate account director at Sudler & Hennessey, India. "We are on the radar for IT outsourcing, training, and definitely advertising. The Rx Club Awards has given India a platform to showcase our healthcare communication work." This is particularly important because, in India, companies are not allowed to advertise drugs to consumers. "So, every day is a challenge to come up with new media," says Krishna.

Sudler & Hennessey took home the most honors, garnering two gold and four silver awards between all of its global offices. S&H India's gold-winning campaign for Dr Reddy's Laboratories took many of the judges by surprise. It featured multiple six-foot-wide mirrors placed strategically around cities, forcing pedestrians to notice their legs—and a message on the glass: Diabetes-induced foot ulcers can cause leg amputation.

"These kinds of ads are global, so if you can understand the concept without words, or with few words, then that's a killer concept," says Annie Wu, art supervisor at FCB Healthcare and a 2006 Rx Club Awards judge.

Mike Devlin, executive creative director at CCA Advertising, says that many of the ads that made him pause and smile came from BBDO Mexico, including "Cigarette Obsession"—developed for Pfizer's Nicorette—which shows how everyday activities, like drinking alcohol, present roadblocks to quitting smoking.

"I think the trend is towards simplicity," Devlin says. "A lot of the foreign agencies, perhaps by design and perhaps by necessity, are looking for more global campaigns that have universal appeal."

Design for the Times

There were fewer "slice of life" ads presented this year. Instead, more abstract, creative designs captured judges' attention. Ad execs kept things simple, choosing to forego text-heavy designs. The number of interactive and video entries were consistent with last year's submissions, but the actual number of winners dropped.

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