Brand: Buckley’s (W.K. Buckley, Limited)
Execution: TV, Social Networking
Target: Listerine Users
Reviewer: David Vinjamuri
A series of simple ads featuring a comparative taste test between Buckley’s and various awful alternatives including Spring Break Hot Tub Water, Snail Trail Accumulation, Used Mouthwash, Public Restroom Puddle (which is yellow),Â Trash Bag Leakage,Â Pig Tongue Scrapings and Cardio Workout Perspiration.Â In each spot (shot on video and with a hum in the background to simulate a handicam),Â the subject is shown drinking the second alternative (Buckley’s being the first) and commenting that it either tastes the same as or better than Buckley’s.
Accompanying the TV spots is a MySpace campaign including a consumer generated photo contest for the worst Buckley’s face.Â There is also a contest for selecting a town to be crowned “The Capital of Bad Taste” between Buckley, Washington and Buckley, Illinois.Â Both Mayors are featured showing their Buckley’s face.
This advertising blog is not normally a fan of gross-out humor but it works well here.Â Buckley (a Canadian company, founded in 1990, now owned by Novartis) borrowed the brand strategy which had been so successful for Listerine in the 1970′s.Â Listerine had long struggled with it’s unpleasant mouth feel and finally hit on the idea that the bad taste could be used as proof that it was actually doing something (killing the bacteria that cause bad breath, in Listerine’s case).Â Buckley took this strategy and made it more explicit with the “It Tastes Awful, And It Works” tagline and a campaign exaggerating the terrible taste of Buckley’s cough syrup.
The result is a clever and memorable campaign which creates an ownable brand positioning for Buckley’s as the ‘no frills’ cough syrup for people who just want to stop their cough.Â This will be impossible for any other brand in this category to copy, and we expect the brand will do as well in the U.S. as it has done in Canada.
Any campaign that uses exaggeration as a technique treads a fine line and Buckley’s is clearly on that line.Â A step further and it will actually suppress sales – which is probably not the goal of the campaign.
Branding Bottom Line:
We’d like to say that Buckley’s left a bad taste in our mouth – but we’re not that brave.