The emoti-con.

It seems that clients in Pharmaland are beginning to get the taste for a bit of emotional content in their communications, which is always nice to see.

I get emotional just thinking about it.

But often the word is used to describe such low level concessions as having a person featured somewhere in the materials. Yup, that should do it.


Granted, possibly more emotionally engaging than a graph. But actually emotional?

Just placing a typical patient in your communications and calling it emotional is like putting a pair of football boots on and calling yourself a footballer.

What clients really mean (or what they should mean) is they want something that hooks the reader, HCP or patient, on a deeper level than the data alone would permit.

And I agree that that is a worthy goal, people will always have an emotional response first, but emotional can mean a lot of things. And if you are limiting yourself to just one aspect of emotional IE: Sad, heart-wrenching etc you are eliminating a major part of what an emotional engagement actually means or can deliver.

What we really should be talking about is resonance.

To me putting more ’emotion’ in to a brand is about understanding the target market more and hitting upon the trigger which resonates with them most effectively.

The human effect.

This could effect me…or my patients in a way I hadn’t even thought about before has to be a stronger reaction than simply this is really efficacious.

I was lucky enough to pop down to Cannes last year for the inaugural Health Lions awards and my favourite talk by far was from David Nutter, the director of the Red wedding episode of Game of Thrones. At that time I had only just started watching the first series and as he showed the scene in all its gory glory, it was hard to fathom the impact it had had on the legions of fans as they sat, hands over mouths, in horror at the bloodletting.

Why? because the blood was spilling on people I had no attachment to. These were mere outlines of characters at the stage I was at in my viewing journey.

So recently when I came to actually watch the famous scene again, (yes, it has taken me that long) now that I had reached it chronologically and grown attached to the characters,  I knew what was to come but the impact, even so, was almost double the first time round. My emotional attachment to these characters was the difference.

Not a major surprise, of course, but an interesting experience none the less to witness it with and without emotional engagement. The resonance was so much greater, the sadness so more poignant. The blood so much redder.

Of course we struggle with creating characters within advertising that can ever compete with dramas, there are cute bears and puppies and Meerkats but if they get canned, nobody really complains or is that sad.

No, there is only one character in any ad campaign, one that you really can care about. One that you know inside out as if he was Hamlet himself and that any message can effect directly if done with enough resonance.

You’re way ahead of me, aren’t you?

Yes, little old you – the punter.



The 100% factor

Why do agencies bang on about being single minded?

Well, it’s a little known fact that an ad/idea can only deliver a maximum of 100% effectiveness.

Seems a bit stingy doesn’t it?

Thing is,  your agency will tell you that if your concept aims to tell the world that your drug is super tolerable, then you should really be single minded about saying that.

Drug X is super tolerable.

Add in a nice idea, stir well and job done.

“Wait a minute Mr Beard and skinny jeans. The thing is, we’ve got more than one thing to say, okay so the main thing is super-tolerability but what about efficacy?….ooh and that new license coming in March? and our ‘commitment to tolerability’ statement”

Hmm…that stupid 100% rule does rather get in the way of that.

Drug X is super tolerable, efficacious and has a new license in March and we’re committed to tolerability!

“Great! now we have a 400% effective concept!”


Now you’re actually using 25% to say super tolerability, 25% to say efficacy and 25% about that new license and…oh you get it.

So it’s still only 100% then?

‘fraid so.


“Okay, so….so now…now….what if we make the headline a bit bigger to really push home the message of super tolerability but keep the other factors at 20%?”

Well, I have actually reached the outer limits of my mathematical skills but, at a guess, your main point is at 60%- at best.

“No…surely 140%??”

Um…well the thing is…remember the 100% factor?

Bloody ad agencies.

The problem with loading your concept with icons and multiple logos and subheads and bullet points and flashes and call to actions and website addresses, and corporate statements, is that they don’t add what you might think they add. Sometimes they support, if used judiciously, but mostly they subtract from what you thought was a single minded idea, simply by cluttering.

And even then, just saying it doesn’t always work.

Just because it’s right there in front of you doesn’t mean it’s getting through or motivating.

I mean, who fancies a cigarette right now?


The thing is, remembering ten things is harder than two things. And remembering two things is twice as hard as remembering one thing.

Even if you’re saying one thing, saying it twice doesn’t help.

Even if you’re saying one thing, saying it twice doesn’t help.

It’s just annoying.

So if you want your concept to deliver 110% it’s worth giving it 100% impact.

By being single minded.

Happy Easter everyone.