Pharmaceutical Executive's Ad Stars

Apr 01, 2006

In 2005, healthcare advertising hit a new level of refinement in strategy and sophistication in execution. Even better, it reached a new place, where promotion and education sit comfortably together. Brand teams are growing and learning, particularly about using emotion to inspire action.

Honoring the most innovative ads in 2005—and the people who created them
Our goal was to find not just the most effective and innovative ads, but ads that point the way toward the future of pharma advertising. To find them, we flipped through hundreds of magazines, scoured Web sites, and glued ourselves to the TV, then phoned dozens of industry thought leaders, ad experts, and others to hear what was on their minds. On the pages that follow, you'll meet the teams behind the ads we finally selected. As you'd expect, they're talented and creative. They're more, too. Whether they're teaching about a disease mechanism, persuading a shy patient that it's okay to talk about an embarrassing condition, or translating clinical data into concrete human terms, these folks play a vital role in getting medicines to patients. It's like we said: They'restars.

Play Ball


BRAND Viagra CLIENT Pfizer LEFT TO RIGHT: Willy Matos, director of production; Luz de Armas, executive creative director; and Charles Pinedo, senior account executive NOT PICTURED: Anabella Illarramendi, senior art director

For some, erectile dysfunction ads come on way too strong. When they do, companies lose the ability to break through to consumers. One particularly tough market to reach is Latino men, whose culture of machismo makes sexual problems almost a taboo subject. Hispanamerica took a new tack to promote Viagra to this audience. The team created educational brochures based on sports analogies—such as "understand your opponent" and "speak to your coach"—to give these men a way to talk about erectile dysfunction.

"We tried to create a comfort zone for men by using the universal language of sports and a guy-to-guy tonality," says Luz de Armas. Indeed, the only "sexy" image included is on the brochure's last page, which features a couple cuddling demurely on a park bench.

Ring Bearer

Heartbeat Digital

BRAND NuvaRing CLIENTOrganon LEFT TO RIGHT: Reed Lubin, associate director, Internet communications, Organon; TRACY ANN MORROW, senior account director, Heartbeat Digital; Scott De Nino, art director, Heartbeat Digital; and Linda Stamler, brand manager, Organon

In the already-saturated contraceptive market, establishing a two-inch wide vaginal ring presented a challenge—particularly given that most birth control pills are already 99 percent effective. But Organon felt the therapy offered women benefits, particularly because they only needed to think about it once a month. In any case, the company wanted females to try the product, and tapped Heartbeat Digital to deliver some innovative tactics to encourage usage.

The first step was to make women stop and think about their current method of birth control, says Tracy Ann Morrow. The agency created a banner ad that posed the question simply: "Not loving your birth control?" By posing the question, it invited consumers to click through and seek more information from the NuvaRing Web site. Once on the site, visitors had access to free trial vouchers for the product, which they could print out and take to their pharmacist, after receiving a prescription from their doctor.

Heartbeat Digital did its homework and knew its target audience of 30-plus women. "The ad is based on a full media strategy of knowing where these women go online," says Morrow. The ads appeared on,,, and other sites.

The banner and voucher concept worked like a charm. The company saw an average voucher conversion rate of 14.5 percent. It also gave women who felt skeptical about NuvaRing the impetus to give it a try.

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