4 Campaigns Where Healthcare Embraced Humor

Sometimes the best medicine is laughter

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A life-altering health challenge is nothing to laugh about. Until there’s nothing left to do but laugh, that is.

For years, healthcare marketers have worked to perfect demonstrating their empathy and understanding of four of the five most overwhelming feelings and emotions: shock, fear, grief and denial. But they stayed carefully away from the last one: laughter. Laughter for relief, human connection and simple recognition or understanding.

At this year’s Cannes Lions Health, we started to see healthcare crack a smile. These two campaigns earned laugh-out-loud respect at the Lion’s Health awards program.

Dexcom’s Ryan and Suzie

People living with diabetes regularly have to check their blood by pricking the tip of their finger with a needle. Needless to say, few enjoy the prick. Dexcom’s new product is able to monitor blood with no needles. So, they had a little fun with wordplay.

The ad tells a story about@RYANANDSUZIEGLOBALTRAVELLERS, a couple just back from a package getaway. That status update is followed by nearly 20 increasingly obnoxious hashtags (#GetYourBeachOn) and ultimately paid off with, “The world is already full of pricks. So we made a glucose monitoring system for diabetics that doesn’t have any.”

Cigna’s TV Doctors of America: Season Two

This cross-generational cast of TV doctors, from McDreamy to Doogie, was back for another funnier and more digital season of encouraging people to schedule an annual checkup—just not with them! In addition to new TV spots, the doctors also took to Instagram to play television docs stumbling through pretend exams. Then they turned on their “pagers,” letting people text to set up an appointment.

Other brands played with more subtle humor that felt like wry expressions of people who really know what it’s like.

Biphentin’s The Screamer

This ADHD treatment won a Lion for a simple print campaign aimed at healthcare professionals. To show how the rollercoaster rides of ADHD symptoms could be left in the past, it created vintage, decaying theme park signs with names like The Supertime Screamer and The Daily Disrupter.

Takeda’s Lighter Blue

The brand’s research found that people with depression often use self-deprecating humor to talk about the condition and their daily symptoms or challenges. They laugh to overcome the stigma and the discomfort. Lighter Blue joins them in that dry humor. He’s a little blue character with a cat companion who breaks down stigma and delivers you-get-it cartoons made for social media.

Maybe laughter is the best medicine. I feel a little better already.