I'd no sooner finished writing my relatively damning review of that Symbicort ad than I noticed an ad that serves as a perfect counterexample. Everything that Evologue--Symbicort's ad agency--got wrong, JWT* got right in this ad for Xarelto.
The two briefs were pretty similar, resulting in two ads that are structurally identical: Symbicort's a drug for COPD, and Evologue's creatives expressed the benefit as, "you'll be able to go fishing with your grandson". Xarelto is a blood thinner used in the treatment of arrhythmia (amongst other things) so the target demographic's similar. JWT’s creatives expressed the benefit as, "you'll be able to go car-camping with your wife". So, both ads feature old guys, doing old-guy stuff.
Watch this spot for Xarelto and I'll tell you why it's so much better** than the Symbicort spot.
The website iSpot.tv archives and tracks thousands of commercials. The visitors to that site agree with me: 86% of them gave the Xarelto spot a thumbs-up rating, while only 46% of them gave thumbs-up to Symbicort.
Here’s why: As you may remember, the actor in the Symbicort spot was cast and dressed to be a caricature of an old man; that's a predictable mistake, easily made by young creatives who tend to typecast old people anyway. But the creative director and director of the Xarelto spot cast and dressed their lead actor in a way that tells viewers, "Cardiac arrhythmia be damned, you can still be cool."
For those who know about such things, the "fisherman" in the previous spot doesn't have a clue about fly fishing. But the hero of this spot has great taste in campers; that vintage Airstream is bitchin'. Little things like that make all the difference; the first guy's vaguely embarrassing, but this dude's aspirational.
That’s why here at BrandROI, we’re giving this ad a grade of “be”, which is to say, we would not be embarrassed at all to have been involved. If you want further proof that this is a decent commercial that works on the target demographic, check out these comments that were left on iSpot.tv
I can guarantee you that no one’s leaving comments like "this guy is a total heart-throb" about the guy in the Symbicort spot. In fact—further proof that it’s a ‘meh’ ad—no one’s left any comments on that spot at all.
*Xarelto is a drug developed by Bayer, licensed by Johnson & Johnson, and sold through J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals division. I think I’m giving credit where it’s due, to JWT. Heartbeat Ideas also works on the Xarelto brand.
**For the record, I’m well aware that Symbicort is considered a commercial success. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling in any B2C category, the ad is only part of the total effort. You can make a great ad and, if the consumer’s direct experience of the brand is negative, it will fail. You can make a mediocre ad, like the Symbicort ad below, and still succeed. Evidently, Evologue and the rest of the Symbicort marketing team did most things right.