Creative impulse

M&C Saatchi has put the unseen menace of disease under the microscope in the first TV commercials for the pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Wellcome. "Man has no greater enemy than disease. Disease has no greater enemy than Glaxo Wellcome," claims the voiceover. The ads, promoting research to combat Aids, tuberculosis and asthma, broke in the London and Meridian TV regions last month, and have received some national exposure on Channel 4.

The client: Glaxo Wellcome

Philip Connolly, group public affairs manager

We've been asked about advertising on TV for many years, and usually say no. Everything we make is prescription medicine, so we have a narrowly defined audience. But we came to feel that TV could provide us with an emotional dimension. To reinforce that we have bought airtime between entertainment programmes; we didn't just go for news bulletins or serious programming.

The agency: M&C Saatchi

James Lowther, creative director

Glaxo Wellcome is a huge company, and its problem was that people generally don't know anything about it, or what it does. After the merger between Glaxo and the Wellcome Foundation, we needed to put before the public, and more particularly opinion-formers, what the new company stands for. The aim was not to sell specific products.

People thought of Glaxo as a drug company, and used the label in a pejorative way, but its end-product is fighting disease, the biggest killer in the world. We sought to draw attention to how big a problem it is and to how it can only be tackled with scientific expertise. The drugs companies are often referred to as some terrible cartel. We had to make opinion- formers aware of the positive work that we do.

The microscopic images create a different look from other commercials: germs are strangely beautiful. We noticed a resemblance between the Aids virus and a poppy, which enabled us to make our point about Aids having killed more people than were killed in the First World War. The analogy dramatises what a huge problem disease is. Germs are a minute, hidden enemy.

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