Disgusting? Definitely. Funny? I reckon. Memorable? Yes. Novartis’ recent UK TV ad for its Otrivin topical decongestant has probably turned a few stomachs, but also managed to capture the attention of a UK national newspaper and earned close to 3.5mn hits on YouTube at the time of writing. The ad features under-the-weather overweight office worker Kenneth who fantasises about his female co-workers drooling over him as he spreads menthol rub over his unsightly chest, before being advised by the narrator to take Otrivin instead. The message of efficacy is perhaps not immediately as clear as in previous promotions for the product, starring an animated nose and mouth, or a man surrounded by tissues, but the new content is ridiculous enough to deserve another watch… and then another, until the product’s claimed benefits do stick. It is not the first time Novartis has pushed the comedy boat out for Otrivin. Back in 2011 the marketer won a Cannes Lion Advertising award for Swiss ads featuring “mouth breathers”, or people unable to breathe through their blocked noses, carrying the tagline, “You look dumber with your mouth open”.
Comedy was at the heart of the Nicholas Hall & Company’s coveted Best European OTC Advertising Award in 2014, with Dr Reddy’s ad for its Nise topical analgesic winning over delegates. As Russian soldiers line up on the training ground, one poor soldier is utterly unable to twist his neck owing to muscle pain, a piece of slapstick with a message so simple that there is no need to understand the Russian orders barked at him by his commanding officer. The campaign certainly didn’t do Nise’s Russian sales any harm, with the brand posting impressive growth in 2013.
If you have an OTC ad campaign you’re particularly proud of, funny, serious, simple or surreal, which ran between 1st February 2014 and 31st January 2015, why not enter it into the Nicholas Hall Awards? Shortlisted entries will be judged and the winner announced at the OTC Marketing Awards Ceremony on 16th April 2015 in Paris. The categories include, “The Most Innovative Global OTC Marketing Campaign” and “The Colin Borg Award for the Best European OTC Advertising”, while we will also crown the winner of “The Most Innovative European New Product of the Year”.