Every year, amid the usual blizzard of Christmas ads of commercial christmas trees , I always remember the one for J&B Scotch. Created by the agency Grace & Rothschild more than two decades ago, it featured a nonsensical headline: "ingle ells, ingle ells." Copy at the bottom of the ad: "The Holidays aren’t the same without J&B."
There have been great holiday ads in almost every product category you can think of, with a few glaring exceptions: Medical devices and the life sciences. Granted, certain products such as soft drinks, electric shavers and candy have a broad consumer appeal, and can be easily tied to the holidays (think red and green M&Ms). But don’t let that scare you. Anybody can leverage the holiday season to build greater awareness, even those who offer complex clinical or scientific products.
The Merry Christmas coronary
According to a national 2004 study published in Circulation, heart-related deaths increase by as much as 5 percent during the holiday season. And more cardiac deaths occur on Dec. 25 than any other day of the year, followed by Dec. 26 and Jan. 1, respectively. Why? Researchers blame holiday stress, high-fat meals, excessive drinking, snow shoveling and other factors.
Now if that isn’t an opportunity for companies that make coronary stents, what is? Of course, it would have to be handled tastefully, but imagine a tie-in to Santa. After all, who has more holiday stress, eats more fattening cookies and exerts himself more than this gentleman? He’s a prime candidate for a myocardial infarction if there ever was one. It would mean the end of Christmas. But thanks to your innovative stent, implanted through the wrist for immediate ambulation, it doesn’t have to be.
What’s hipper than holiday surgery?
Believe it or not, the operating room is a busy place during the holiday season. According to a report on cnn.com, one reason is that many patients have already met their deductible for the year. They can save significantly by squeezing in surgery before their deductible restarts on Jan. 1. Another reason is that most people have lots of downtime during this period and are surrounded by family members who can attend to all their needs post-surgery.
This is good news for medical device companies of all types. Through a thoughtful, well-executed holiday ad, your customers can be dreaming of a new hip replacement technology, aesthetic medicine laser or snazzy tool for meniscal repair.
Ho Ho Ho, and assay away we go
For the researcher who has everything, how about a custom-made biomarker?
Right now, they are the "Tickle Me Elmo" of drug discovery and development. If you don’t remember, Tickle Me Elmo was the must-have toy of 1996, when parents battled each other to get one for their kids. Okay, scientists aren’t exactly fighting over biomarkers, but suddenly everybody seems to want one. If you develop custom biomarkers, why not capitalize on the growing demand with a special holiday offer? And who knows? Maybe the right biomarker could help researchers figure out what’s up with Rudolph’s nose.
Someday, maybe we’ll see a clever, Advertising Hall of Fame-worthy ad for a mechanical thrombectomy device, defibrillator or, yes, even a biomarker. Don’t scoff. Just like Santa Claus himself, opportunity is everywhere.
Tod Brubaker is an associate creative director / copywriter at Seidler Bernstein. He has extensive experience in general consumer and medical B2B advertising and communications. Tod’s work has won numerous industry awards, including Cannes, Addy, Rx Club, and top honors for print from the Johnson & Johnson James E. Burke Marketing Excellence Awards.