Pharm Exec Ad Stars 2012 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Pharm Exec Ad Stars 2012

Pharmaceutical Executive

Abilify picked up an indication as an "add-on" treatment for depression in 2007—the drug is also approved for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia—and that got Digitas Health thinking about what it means to be depressed. "Winston Churchill famously called depression his 'black dog,'" say Jacqueline Nolan and Graham Mills, co-executive creative directors at Digitas Health, in a co-authored email. "This intrigued us and so...we started asking people to do a drawing that described their depression." The result was a wide variety of visual metaphors: a ball and chain, a robe, a hole in the ground, and an umbrella that rains on the depressed person.

It would be difficult to film a umbrella raining on someone, and even harder to make the umbrella "alive," in the way that it is in the newest Abilify spots, which use animation to make the inanimate metaphors real characters; they stalk their victims. The campaign launched in the first quarter of 2011, and is ongoing, a testament to the ads' effectiveness. Animation is rare in pharma advertising; although Deutsch used animated spots a few years ago for the depression drug Zoloft, those Don Hertzfeldt-inspired spots were less compelling, and featured a blob-like humanoid, without a depression-personified character. The hand-drawn Abilify ads stand out through a combination of the story/characters, and the quality of the illustration/animation, created through a partnership with Th1ng, in London. Sylvain Chomet, producer of The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, directed the TV spots.

But why are these animated spots so compelling? "Using animation makes it much easier for people to project themselves into the film," say Nolan and Mills. "There can be a downside to using real people...if they don't look like you, it's harder to identify with them." In other words, the single-line rendering of a cartoon character is an abstraction that lends itself to audience subjectivity. And then there's depression, that sad-eyed bathrobe with its agoraphobic implications. "We wanted to be able to show the daily struggle people have with their depression, however it's manifested," say Nolan and Mills. —BC

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is one of the most common types of lung disease, and it's a serious burden for patients. Shortness of breath, and pain associated with deep breathing can give the impression of a heavy weight on the patient's chest, but that isn't the only downside. Smoking is a leading cause of COPD, and many patients are made to feel that they deserve the condition; blame often comes along with treatment.

Prior to DraftFCB Healthcare's Spiriva campaign, which features images of an elephant sitting variously on patients' chests, a different agency attempted to flip the Surgeon General's warning, associating treatment with positives, but patients still picked up the sense of guilt. However, the DraftFCB elephant campaign (which was shot using a real elephant—Rosie, who also starred in the 2011 film Water for Elephants) suggests that COPD is a separate entity, albeit a large one. This way, patients can think about improving their condition without any of the nagging blame associated with smoking.


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