2018 Winner

GSK Canada

Buckley's Liquid Gels

Saatchi & Saatchi Canada

BronzeTurnaround Strategy

Generations of Canadians have known Buckley’s through their long-running tagline: “It tastes awful. And it works.” And while that equity continues to power Buckley’s horrible-tasting-yet-remarkably-effective cough syrups, it has actually been an obstacle for the brand’s extensions into pill and capsule formats. Many Buckley’s users equate the awful taste and immediate impact of the syrups to the product’s efficacy. The public did not transfer this legacy of effectiveness onto Buckley’s pill products (which happen to be flavorless). Moreover, even though Buckley’s liquid gels have been around for a decade, broad consumer awareness of Buckley’s Liquid Gels was negligible. In fact, even Buckley’s Syrup users were unaware that Buckley’s came in a pill, and regularly turned to Advil and Tylenol when they wanted the portability and convenience of a pill. The challenge was to make Canadians aware that there is a Buckley’s Pill. And that even though it does not taste awful, it works.

Sales volume and market share of Buckley’s pills have been languishing for years – in the year before the campaign ran, Buckley’s Liquid Gels experienced a -7% decline in sales. The team needed to engineer a stunning reversal to grow the portfolio and stem rising retailer disillusionment.

If it’s got the Buckley’s name on it, it must be effective – no matter the format. Research revealed that both Buckley’s Syrups users and users of competitive cough/cold products believed that Buckley’s Syrups are more powerful/efficacious than Tylenol and Advil. They also believed that a Buckley’s pill would be every bit as effective as Buckley’s Syrups and thus more effective than Tylenol or Advil. They just needed to be told they exist, and to have that message stick. By being blatant about the fact that Buckley’s comes in a pill, consumers who had come to appreciate the no-nonsense messaging of the Buckley’s Syrups campaign would come into the fold for the pills. This directly influenced not only the message of the campaign, but the way that it needed to be shaped creatively.

The campaign needed to make it blatantly obvious that Buckley’s comes in a pill. After years of telling Canadians about its syrups, Buckley’s straight up, no-nonsense spokesperson, Stuart, needed to shock the public into knowing that Buckley’s comes in a super-effective pill. This was achieved by dressing him up in a Buckley’s pill suit - to his eternal chagrin. After all, this was against every straight-talking, gimmick-hating bone in his body. The twist was that he was allowed to complain about his pill-suited predicament and urge people to pay attention to his news, even if it was just to save him from more embarrassment. In a series of TV and online film pieces, Buckley’s featured him barely containing his rage about having to dress up like a pharmacological mascot, and bemoaning that fact because no one seems to know that Buckley’s is available in a pill. Drastic measures – like dressing up a man who appears to have come out of the womb in a starched white shirt and tie in a pill suit – were sadly in order.

The message was delivered in touchpoints that were most meaningful to the target – without getting fancy. 30 and 15-second TV commercials, along with five 6-second pre-roll videos were developed and run throughout the cough/cold season (September- March) in English and French Canada. No other media or in-store materials were utilized. In the 30 and 15-second TV executions, the Buckley’s spokesperson appears in the pill suit, as large as life itself, and gamely tries to keep his dignity as he tells people that Buckley’s comes in a pill. Part of his message was to urge people to understand that fact, so he never has to wear the pill suit again. The 6-second pre-roll videos were written specifically for the format – an approach which has led to Buckley’s pre-roll ads being used by Google as a best practices case study.

The Pill Suit campaign prompted a massive turnaround on the business results for Buckley’s Liquid Gels for 2017/18 cough cold season. These gains occurred in the absence of any other factors like sales promotions or price reductions. Pill sales bounced back from a dismal performance in 2016/17 (-7%) to a massive increase of +15% in 2017/18. Dollar and unit share of market grew 0.5 points in the 2017/18 cough/cold season. Buckley’s Liquids Gels were the fastest growing pill in the cold and flu category, demonstrating +15% growth vs. category growth of 4%, while household penetration increased 0.4 pts.

Client GSK Canada
Director, Marketing Babita Bhatal
Sr. Brand Manager Kellie Li

Agency Saatchi & Saatchi Canada
Executive Creative Director Brian Sheppard
Copywriter Luke Skinner
Art Director Jonathon Ciordas
Head of Production Michelle Orlando
Broadcast Producer Marisa DeBartolo
Strategic Planner John McCarter

Production House Frank Content
Director Craig Brownrigg
Director of Photography Johnny Cliff
Editor Jesse Unruh, Video Nerver
Sound Apollo
Production House Producer Todd Huskisson

For registration inquiries, please contact Ben Soldinger at bsoldinger@brunico.com.
For partnership inquiries, please contact Neil Ewen at newen@brunico.com.