Judgement day

For those of you who’ve sat on the PM society jury in the past you’ll recall a big drafty room at the BMA in Russell Square and two days out of the office, walking round a room peering at rounds and rounds of cardboard.

This year, like many awards shows, most of the judging took place online, streamlining the process in to one day of robust opinions with the location transferred down the M4 to the Crown Plaza Hotel at Heathrow.

When I remember the first time I rolled up at the PM Society lunchtime bash at the Grosvenor Hotel a few years back, it was mostly print with a few digital pieces starting to creep in here and there. A documentary was seen as breaking important new ground.

This year I was lucky enough to be the PM head judge, and I must say I think the standard of work has steadily improved year on year and reflects a steady growth of creativity in what we do every day at the coal face.

The PMs has always suffered in a lot of creatives minds for having less prestige than some other shows.


Because there must be a winner in each category, so it removes the possibility of the Craft judges only awarding (what would have been in most other shows a bronze) a bronze.

Sometimes that’s hard to get your head around.

Fortunately this year the Golds popped out, I can’t recall a single discussion in any category about what was Gold.

These days there are quite a few high production films, both animation and live action, that wouldn’t look out of place in a consumer show, some exquisite digital design and even social media campaigns.

This year’s jurors also numbered several previous Cannes judges, which might have seemed unlikely a few years ago.

Nevertheless, some entrants still do themselves no favours.

Let me give you some tips.

If you are preparing work for any awards jury, I ask you to consider that usually those juries are curated from the industry’s Creative Directors.

That means….

We don’t need to see the shoot, most of us are familiar with a set, editing software and lights. It’s less impressive than you might hope.

Unless of course, the technique is part of the idea.

But don’t include the whole story of how you came up with it and how much effort it took to produce, no timelines please. It might impress clients and new biz prospects, but save the backroom insights for them.

Why? because I don’t care. I’m judging the idea and the craft.

So get to the problem and then the idea as fast as you can.

If you have a digital piece, like say even an idetail, don’t just upload all the pages as a series of jpegs. Trust me, nobody has the time to try and figure out what the UX was. Make it as painless as possible and help us love it as much as you do.

As a rule, people presenting the idea to camera, be it agency CDs or Clients is really boring.

Imagine something really boring, then imagine something more boring than that.

You can say it’s a fantastic new idea that people loved but it won’t help. We’ll be the judge of that thank you very much.

I say this with all the genuine understanding of the difficulty that making case history films involves.

And I know not all entrants are agencies, but all entries are equal when it comes to the jury room.

So anyway, I hope this helps.

My thanks to all the jurors who gathered at the Crown Plaza this year, I hope we did all our entrants, organisers and sponsors proud.

And if you got nominated, congratulations. I’ll see you in January.

Have a fab non denominational seasonal holiday break and a happy New year.






Christmas comes to Pharmaland.

Think about it. They call it the greatest story ever told.

Actually it’s the greatest healthcare ad campaign that ever ran. It’s text book marketing.

Firstly, you have a blockbuster product that can solve all ills.

Then you have 12 KOLs ready to advocate.

You have a wonderfully written idetail, (previously in hard back.)

You have patient stories inside that make the whole thing come alive.

You have ten important guidelines for prescribing.

You have conference centres designed entirely for the symposiums dedicated to your product, all over the world. (Every Sunday)

You even have jingles that everyone knows.

You have salesmen (and now women) who go in to the community and spread the word.

And you have the promise of ever-lasting life.

And no medics to say you can’t say that.

And it’s available everywhere.

All you need is three wise men and some cattle.

Now that’s a case history.

Merry Christmas one and all.


2014’s heartwarming Christmas pharma campaigns.

While the world squabbles over the relative merits or otherwise of the John lewis Monty the penguin ad (16 million views) and a certain WW1 footballing (10 million views) spot I thought I’d divert your gaze to Pharmaland’s big Christmas campaigns for a quick overview.

And I must say this year’s crop are laying on the schmaltz like only the great pharma ads can.

First up is the new Viagra spot, which launched in the middle of I’m a celebrity.

For those of you who missed it, it features a rosy-cheeked man in his sixties with a hipsterish long white beard and a big wobbly belly, which could be full of jelly, but it’s hard to tell.


The Rosy-cheeked hipster in the Viagra ad

He and his saucy 25 year old wife are hanging up their stockings on Christmas eve but simply can’t find anywhere to hang them. Nothing seems to catch and there are no hooks in their wooden cabin….but wait a minute…a small blue pill and a glass of water later and the young wife’s eyes widen as she looks downward…and yes folks, problem solved and the stocking is hung.

And hung well.

The endline…’We’re up for Christmas, are you?’ was a nice heartwarming touch.

The equally heartwarming Lipitor ad first hit our screens during Xfactor and aims to remind us all that Christmas lunch and all the hullabaloo of the party season is no reason to lose control of your health.

It features a doctor the size of a ‘good angel’ who lands on a patient’s shoulder during the party season. She wags her fingers as she whispers in to his ear.

The final scene is our patient hero as he is served a nice green salad at a big family Christmas lunch and while everyone else is happily tucking in to turkey he munches cheerily on a lettuce leaf and sips a glass of sparkling water.

The song is a reworded version of ‘white Christmas’ with the words ‘I’m dreaming of a slight Christmas’ replacing the original.

The endline ‘It’s what Christmas is Cholesterolabout’ is cheesy (low fat) but heartwarming.

The Warfarin campaign started life on youtube and has become a social media sensation even before it dominated our screens with Colin the Christmas clot. As you no doubt will have seen on your Facebook or twitter feed, it features the heartwarming animated story of a small blood cell who is looking for love but simply can’t find a partner to ‘get together with’.

Colin the clot

Colin the blood cell’s animated love story

Even at Christmas he has no luck at the office party, until his eyes meet a lady blood cell’s eyes across a crowded dance floor.

They smooch to Frankie goes to Hollywood’s ‘power of love’ and are about to kiss when a security guard with the word ‘Warfarin’ on his lapel steps in and separates them. He angrily points to a sign that reads ‘STRICTLY NO CLOTTING’ and Colin is booted out of the party and we see him walk dejectedly to the bus stop.

The voice over tells us, ‘Because bleedin’ Christmas is about not getting together’ in what I presume is Ray Winstone doing his usual cockney performance.

I know I had a lump in my throat when I first saw it.

Lastly the campaign for Aracipt featuring an old lady who is left all alone in a nursing home on Christmas day until her entire family show up to give her presents. I loved her line “who are you all again?”

At this time of year when people are over indulging and generally disregarding their health with gay abandon it’s nice to see that the pharma advertising industry is making the most of it and really ramping-up the communications beyond just flu vaccinations.

I mean, imagine if we just totally ignored it and didn’t maximise it at all?