These painkiller ads are weirdly adorable

Difflam sore throat ads using a paper cut technique
(Image credit: VMLYR London via Liam Riddler on LinkedIn)

Ads for over-the-counter painkillers tend to follow a similar pattern. An actor clutches part of their body and grimaces in pain, and then we're hit with some scientific-looking graphics to illustrate the functioning of a product that can help us. 

But the guys at VMLYR have come up with something very different, and a lot more engaging for the Difflam brand of throat relief products. The result is something that's actually really pleasing to look at, while still reminding us of the suffering that a throat infection can unleash on us (it could even be a contender for our pick of the best print ads).

Difflam sore throat ads using a paper cut technique

A trio of assailants assault a paper cut uvula (Image credit: VMLYR London via Liam Riddler on LinkedIn)

The campaign promotes the Difflam spray through a triad of pieces that raise a smile but also get to the rub of how terribly painful a sore throat can be. Each piece shows an uvula (that's the flap that hangs at the back of the throat) under assault from a different assailant. But rather than a virus or bacteria, the attackers are a boxer, a cat and a blindfolded young girl who's about to mistake the uvula for a piñata.

The new Difflam ads are cute but hit where it hurts (Image credit: VMLYR London via Liam Riddler on LinkedIn)

The pieces are unique and effective. Each adversary feels perfectly chosen to evoke memories of different types of pain, from a dull, throbbing ache to that kind of sharp, rough pain when you swallow or the full-on piñata explosion that comes with a case of pharyngotonsillitis. 

Meanwhile, the use of the paper cut look makes for a really clean visual style that's likely to draw people in to look more closely when they see the pieces at a distance in an outdoor location. It looks like these must have been great fun to create. We'd actually love to see them animated too, which could be a nice touch both for online use and digital-out-of-home placements.

Ouch! (Image credit: VMLYR London via Liam Riddler on LinkedIn)

The Diffram ad campaign was devised by VMLYR London and illustrated by the Canadian artist Hudson Christie. The posters are due to be used in outdoor and online advertising in the UK for around six months. Senior creative Liam Riddler shared the work on LinkedIn, where they've gone down a storm.

Difflam sore throat ads using a paper cut technique

I'm dreading my next cold already (Image credit: VMLYR London via Liam Riddler on LinkedIn)

For more inspiration see our pick of the best billboard advertising. You might also want to check out the best branding books and best graphic design books. We also have some character design tips, which could be useful if you're looking create characters with personality for a campaign of your own.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.