Category: Healthcare Communicates
April 30th, 2014

Why Can’t Every Problem Be Solved By a Bulldog in a Hawaiian Shirt?

At Mortar, getting a number wrong usually results in us trying to order a pizza from a dry cleaner at 2 a.m. But for healthcare providers like Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the ramifications are much more serious – after all, 50ccs of a medication is a far cry from 15.

Taking basic steps, like saying “one-five instead of 15” makes a surprisingly huge difference. And that’s just one of the techniques that can be used in the hospital to eliminate preventable harm.

The question is, how do you communicate these somewhat mundane-yet-crucial rules to staff in a way they’ll pay attention to (after all, these are some of the brightest and busiest doctors and nurses in the field) while staying consistent with the warmth and care you’d expect from a children’s hospital?

Our answer: Punimals!




Pairing adorable bespoke animal illustrations with equally adorable and punny headlines allowed us to communicate life-saving information in a manner people wanted to engage with. And, we gave employees plenty of opportunities for doing just that – through posters, mouse pads, training cards, magnets, screensavers and even direct mail postcards sent to employees’ homes.
























Saving lives and keeping children healthy was clearly the most important goal of the campaign, but we have to admit to grinning when we heard people were going out of their way to collect all 10 characters. Now, if only that dry cleaner would arrive with our deep dish pie.

January 30th, 2014

You Can Do What With What? Holy Crap, That’s Inspiring.

Remember Angelina Jolie making headlines when she publicized her BRCA gene test results? Well, our scary-smart new buddies at Biosearch make the kits used to perform those kinds of tests. Some companies make car parts. Biosearch makes custom oligonucleotides. Say whaaaat?

Call ‘em oligos for short. Basically, they’re single strands of DNA that Biosearch custom-creates based on whatever pattern the customer requests (e.g. AGTCTGGAC). Bonus points if you remember what those little letters mean.

These custom oligos can then be used to discover some pretty amazing stuff. If you wanted to map your personal genome, Biosearch might be the one making your test kit. Or when winemakers need to make sure their vino isn’t spoiled (spoilt?), they turn to Biosearch’s tools. The list of applications goes on and on. DNA testing in murder cases. Screening the air for biological warfare threats. It’s the stuff of the future, we tell you!

Biosearch pioneered this dope technology back in ‘83, and they wanted to celebrate their big 3-0 with swagger. So some real scientists (them) called some brand scientists (us) to do their thing. And boy, did we do it.

Existing biotech advertising made it easy to know what not to do.

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But we wanted Biosearch to really stand out. To be taken seriously. To flip biotech advertising on its head, the same way they flipped genomic discovery on its head decades ago. Biosearch’s oligos enable scientists to see DNA through a completely different lens – in their words, they illuminate the unseen. And then, this happened.

BioSearch001 R1v4_Kalidascope

DNA + pinot noir = microbe-free deliciousness.

The kaleidoscope works for a lot of reasons, aside from offering new perspective. It implies perfect symmetry and precision (Biosearch’s #1 attribute). It’s beautifully eye-catching and looks nothing like the competition. And the idea of multiplication was a natural fit, given that Biosearch can create thousands of identical oligos in a single day. (We swear it makes sense if you understand nerdy things like oligos and qPCR.

The first ad recently launched in The Scientist magazine, and we’ve got more kaleidoscopes in the works. Nerd on, playas. 


Body copy for the print ad (omg, they’re reading the copy!):

It takes a powerful lens of precision to discern the true essence of a molecule. So when a purveyor of fine wine needs to know a batch is unequivocally bacteria-free, they turn to Biosearch. Our proprietary BHQ probes enable revealing and reliable qPCR testing, powering new discoveries in genomics every day. And at our large-scale, cGMP-compliant facilities, we impeccably craft oligos as if lives depend on it – because they do. When we’re not verifying vineyard goods, we’re building primers to test cancer-fighting drugs or halt a bioweapon attack. And that’s just today. Who knows what we’ll help you discover tomorrow?

October 25th, 2013

Another Website, Another Excuse to Look at Chest Models.

If someone asked you to wear a heavy, clunky necklace attached to wires that connect to electrodes all over your chest, we doubt your answer would be “Sure!” Same goes for every heart patient whose doctor prescribes them a Holter monitor. The device looks like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. It’s no shocker it was invented in 1949.

Problem is, too many medical devices are designed purely from a physician or engineer’s point of view, which blindly brushes aside the most important audience of all: the patient. Like any sensible group of human beings, Corventis had an inkling there was a smarter way to monitor heart conditions besides a big bulky mess of wires. Continue reading

August 28th, 2013

Don’t Sweat the Sweaty Stuff.

Remember the folks at miraDry? Of course you do; they’re our most memorable client of all time. They invented a way to significantly reduce underarm sweating. What? We can explain.

There are millions of Americans who experience excessive sweating – 1 in 5 to be exact. So the next time you soak a henley after walking two blocks, don’t assume you’re out of shape. Some people just have overactive sweat glands. And since not many people talk about it, not many people know what to do about it.

A few mediocre solutions exist. Botox works, but you have to go back every few months for it to stay working. Relying on prescription antiperspirants is like plugging a leak with a marshmallow. And surgery is never fun. (Except maybe for Mortaron Ben Klau, who says he loves getting MRIs.)

miraDry is the only non-invasive treatment that produces lasting results. We’re talking an average 82% reduction in underarm sweat. It’s a big deal. But it’s also an admittedly touchy topic to broach.


Continue reading

March 15th, 2013

Saving Limbs Through Science? There’s an App for That.

Sometimes, and only sometimes, we think it’d be nice to clone people.

Take, for example, Avinger CEO Dr. John B. Simpson. He invented a revolutionary tool called Ocelot that’s able to cut through plaque in patients with peripheral artery disease, which prevents doctors from having to amputate patients’ legs. Thanks to Doc Simpson, our client Avinger has saved 7,900 limbs and counting. Like Manfred Selenschik’s. He lives in Muenster, Germany, and can now walk pain-free.

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Click to hear Manfred’s story.


Ocelot relies on a real-time intravascular imaging technology called Optical Coherence Tomography. Basically, it uses a camera as thin as a strand of hair to give doctors a direct view inside the artery they’re working on.

If you’re feeling horribly confused, imagine being the doctor who’s about to use this thing. As you might guess, learning to use Ocelot is a tad bit trickier than tying Velcro shoes. In the past, Dr. Simpson would be present at every operation to ensure it went smoothly. Now if we could clone the man, we would in a heartbeat. (We would also clone Jon Hamm a couple times.) But these days, an app seems to fix everything. So we built one.

The iPad app, called Avinger Beam, is a series of tutorials that teach you how to interpret OCT images. Which is basically a giant video game and makes us feel like we’re submarine captains in WWI. Captains fighting arterial plaque, of course. Beam shows you how to identify where the plaque is; then you get quizzed and it tells you if you’re right. (Or wrong, hopeless slackers. You are so not getting recess today.)

The interface is Avinger-slick, black, bold, and extremely easy to navigate. Not bad, eh? In the meantime, we’ll work on 3D printing Dr. Simpson.