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No bitter pill: how GSK and Grey took the pain out of taking medicine

Marketing-interactive.com, Bought & Sold, October 2012

What made this work?

“In this relationship, the key to success revolved around openness and commitment. GSK was clearly open to share with Grey all the demands and sensitivities of developing a locally relevant campaign in tune with a global one. In turn, Grey was open to develop a campaign using new channels and tactics to engage much more deeply with consumers during the Ramadan period. Both GSK and Grey, then showed real commitment to success and even adapted their normal working practices, through the like of the informal pre-production meeting to ensure clarity on what they wanted to achieve.”

Richard Bleasdale, Regional Managing Partner, The Observatory International Asia Pacific

A demanding client is not necessarily a bad thing as Grey discovered while working on this year’s Ramadan campaign. Rayana Pandey writes.

There are a myriad campaigns for Ramadan every year, so how a brand differentiates itself is quite a challenge. And if the local campaign precedes a global one, which entails a new brand positioning, the challenge gets even tougher.

This was the situation GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Asia and Grey Singapore found themselves in when working on this year’s Ramadan campaign for Panadol, which was to run in Malaysia and Indonesia.

While Panadol comes up with a campaign around the festive season every year, what made 2012 stand apart was its scale and approach. It was the first time the brand moved beyond just running a typical five-week long campaign highlighting the good values of Ramadan and how Panadol related to them. It came up with a whole programme around the festival, which included in-store marketing and activation for each of the two markets on top of the TVC.

‘How do we raise the brand profile and make it a bigger part of consumers’ lives was our main objective,’ says Soumitra Sen, GlaxoSmithKline Asia Area’s marketing director of the wellness category, adding that in line with GSK’s focus on wellness, he hoped to get people to think about Panadol when considering the well-being of their loved ones and not so much as a medicine.

The shift in brand positioning was a global one, in a revamp, Panadol changed its brand tagline globally from “I choose/trust Panadol” to “care” or giving back.

The shift meant both Grey and GSK in Asia had to work carefully while coming up with a local campaign that could easily live alongside a global one, running on the same theme.

Hence, the campaign centred on the theme “Be Prepared”.

“Be prepared was our way of saying do no miss out on any meaningful moment during the festive season, should you experience a headache,” Sen says. “Have a Panadol at home so when you breakfast in the evening it’s the first thing you can take to relieve yourself of the pain.”

Panadol also drove the message there should be enough at home for “yourself and others” because people typically breakfast together in the evening.

In the past a Panadol TVC would typically show a person doing heavy work and as a result having a headache. The cure to the problem would then be a Panadol because the protagonist (for example, a courier man or bus driver) would realise others rely on him to get the work done, so he relies on Panadol, Sen explains.

“Globally, the shift is now on care and so we came up with this campaign which talks about preparedness for not only oneself, but also for others,” Sen says.

In six of Indonesia’s key markets, Panadol took to local radio to spread the message of a surprise visit by a squad, and if the host’s home had Panadol and they answered a few product-related questions, the squad would reward them with gifts related to Ramadan.

“The idea was that if you had Panadol at home, we deem you as a caregiver,” Sen says.

In Malaysia, along with running the TVC, GSK tied up with Touch ‘n Go, the sole Electronic Toll Collection operator for all highways in Peninsular Malaysia, by giving away 50,000 Touch ‘n Go cards preloaded with RM10 each at selected toll plazas and through Guardian, its selected retailer nationwide.

At the back of the toll card was a message written in Bahasa Malaysia which meant: “Savour every meaningful moment.” The idea was to let drivers get past the toll easily without them having to queue up in the cash lane, which may cause inconvenience or even headaches in the fasting month, explains Sen.

The entire process of the campaign creation, however, wasn’t an easy one. There were quite a few challenges to begin with. Topping the list was maintaining the local relevance and flavour while bringing in the guidelines on the look and feel of the global approach.

“It was a mandate, not even a brief,” Sen says.

Adds Steve Clay, Grey Group Asia Pacific’s regional creative director: “But sometimes, briefs that are a little more rigid help in coming up with good work. It also reflects on the health of the agency-client relationship.

“They know what they want, which is always good. However, keeping up with the frequent changes happening globally, as the brand repositioned itself, was a challenge.”

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