Ozzy Osbourne was right. Creativity can go off the rails pretty quickly. The problem with most metaphors is that they’re not ownable, especially in HCP communication. The more you use them, the greater the chance of a train wreck, as we witness with these four campaigns.

Four different agencies each had a creative brief with these words, most likely, as the main point: RAPID & POWERFUL.  What happened behind closed agencies doors is known only by the creators of these campaigns.  Were the concepts agency driven or client driven?  Did they start off as insight driven communication that made an emotional connection with the healthcare professional or did the client ask for an icon to tell a two-part story? The stories behind campaigns are endless and unique. For all we know, these campaigns may have been the most successful in the brands’ history, and hats off if they were!  Or, perhaps conveying information alone wasn’t enough to change customer behavior.

The lesson here is exercise caution when using metaphors. If you’re going to go down that road (or those tracks), check to make sure they haven’t been done before or recently. While one could argue that they’re for different indications and don’t compete directly with each other, a physician may be exposed to all four. Cover over the logo on each of the ads and the visual becomes generic. “Generic? But they’re branded!” Yes, they are. PICATO (for actinic keratosis) is the high-tech train of the future; RAPAFLO is branded blue for the watery world of BPH and it would seem that the AFINITOR (oncology) and STRIBILD (HIV) trains came off the same production line. At the end of the day they’re just locomotives parked in the West Side Rail Yards at Penn Station.