Marketing campaigns come in so many different forms and mediums now that it can be hard to stand out, and yet that is the very goal of each campaign. To stand out. To resonate with the audience. To be memorable. So, we asked marketers what campaigns they saw that just stuck in their minds? And if there is anything that can be learned from these campaigns that can be applied to healthcare marketing.

IKEA, Pee On This Ad

When you see an ad for a baby crib, you expect the content to, at most, make you feel cuddly and cozy. What you don’t expect is for the ad to insist you pee on it. That’s why IKEA’s chemically loaded print piece (pees?) is so memorable.

Beyond the whizz-bang headline, the ad provides both a business solution and an emotional connection to the audience. The idea is that if the reader offers up her urine sample on the strip at the bottom of the page, the strip will reveal a deeply discounted price for the crib, available to all IKEA Family program members.

A lot of brands—let’s be honest, most brands when pitched this concept wouldn’t touch it with a million latex gloves. That’s why it’s great. What others might see as a risk, IKEA and their creative agency, Åkestam Holst, saw a golden opportunity to connect with consumers in a very real, human way.

Technologically, it’s no different than any old witless, cribless, drug-store pregnancy test. Who knows how many women actually used it as their very first indicator, excitedly handing their partner a damp piece of paper that says, “50% off with membership.” But that isn’t the point. As an ad, it gives an immediate tangible benefit to the result, and keeps the brand front-of-mind for the new parents-to-be when filling out the rest of baby’s space. It’s shockingly simple for how hard it works. Now, when it comes to furniture for the wee people, we’ll know IKEA is where we gotta go.

—Tyler Dustin, Creative Director, Intouch Solutions

Mass Mutual, “Live Mutual”

I look like a bouncer. But as my teen daughters often say (hopefully not to their punk middle school suitors), I’m just a big softy. Which is why a campaign that really stands out is the “Live Mutual” work for Mass Mutual.

What initially caught my eye was its beautiful execution. There’s ultra-high-speed film, elegant type design, great casting, and a modern film aesthetic. But the more the campaign unfolded, the more it settled in and connected with my soul. I realized what I truly loved about this campaign was the incredibly important message at its core: That we’re all better—individually and collectively—when we help and lean on one other.

It reminds us—and shows us—what the best of humanity looks like. A retiree who comforts ICU babies when parents can’t be there. A mom who buys a car for a local teacher who commutes four hours to work each day. Bikers who give a long-bullied student a chopper escort on his ride to school. These stories make us FEEL good. About the brand. And about what the best version of ourselves could be. They inspire us to star in our own acts of mutuality, when cameras aren’t rolling.

Healthcare marketing can learn something here. If we tell real, human stories in compelling ways that reflect reality, rather than a contrived “reality” where actors wear brand-colored clothing and speak in forced, logo-based jingles designed to increase brand recognition, maybe people will feel deeply connected to our brands, and be inspired to become not only the best, but the healthiest version of themselves.

—David Leonardi, EVP/Executive Creative Director, Hill Holliday Health

Walmart, Famous Cars

In the new era of Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and a multitude of video-on-demand services, commercials can often be skipped or simply ignored. Walmart’s latest advertisement introducing its free grocery pickup is a perfect example of using compelling creative work to get even the most commercial-skipping consumer to stop and watch.

The advertisement immediately connects with viewers by referencing memorable TV and movie vehicles such as Kit from “Knight Rider,” Bumblebee from “Transformers,” the Mystery Machine from “Scooby-Doo,” and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future,” showing them arriving at the drive-up area where their Walmart groceries are waiting for pickup. The brilliance here is the immediate impact of a commercial going under the radar as entertainment but simultaneously getting viewers to immediately understand and desire their service. For Walmart, finding a way to display the message in a fun and humorous way that leverages the universal appeal of pop culture superstar cars was key.

In healthcare, we walk a similar line with HCPs—helping them understand our product offering without being so clinical, straightforward, or conservative that the marketing and message fall short of being memorable. Another challenge is that presenting conceptual creative without clinical context risks physicians not immediately connecting with your big idea. It’s all about balance, and the Walmart advertisement is a great consumer example of a quick, clear message seamlessly delivered with great creative execution that makes it a must-see spot people are talking about—a virtually “un-skippable” commercial.

— Tara Powers, Creative Director, Elevate

McDonald’s, “McDelivery – Rain”

William Carlos Williams once wrote, “It is difficult to get the news from poems.” The recent work from TBWA/Paris for McDonald’s, however, is a strong argument against this oft-quoted aphorism. This simple print series announcing McDonald’s new delivery service is the most poetic—and memorable—work I’ve seen in a long time. And it, of course, delivers the news!

As so much advertising goes into a “values space” (see Nike, Gillette) or throws a kitchen sink of category cues at you (I’m talking about us, pharma marketers), here is a campaign that revels in the mundane desire to be comforted. In a series of nearly copy-free print ads, the problem/solution narrative is a quick, unspoken read. Its beautiful restraint allows the viewer to bring the back story—and the emotions that accompany it. It allows the viewer to be in the ad.

Photographer Roberto Badin’s painterly work helps conjure emotion without demanding it. For me, feelings of longing and romance, comfort and desire, filled the communication. While my intellect raced to Matisse’s water lilies, my imagination placed me behind that window on such a rainy day. Suddenly, McDonald’s becomes much more than a fast food joint: It’s enabling the warmth and comfort of home and family.

In addition to the exquisite application of craft in this work, there’s a reminder for all of us in the healthcare space: The simple desires—comfort, warmth, agency in our lives—unite us. Will I ever order in McDonald’s to make a rainy day in Paris complete? Hell no. But I know I can.

— James Talerico, Managing Director, Executive Creative Director, Heartbeat


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