Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Glaxo Sucks Times Ten

When I blogged last weekabout GlaxoSmithKline using the word “suck” in its new Nicorette ad campaign I thought it would be a one and done thing.

But then I was paging through this week’s “Parade” magazine over the weekend and saw GSK’s full-page, back-inside-cover Nicorette ad timed for the new year.

“Dear Smokers,” it starts, “2010 is going to suck.” The copy goes on to say, “So welcome to a sucky New Year.”

In all, I counted 10 “sucks” or versions of the word in the one ad. Alright, we get it. You’re trying to be all edgy, but do you really have to repeat the word 10 times on one page? It strikes me as overkill. Parade, by the way, is stuffed into Sunday papers in cities and towns all over the country.

Ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, which touts itself on its Web site as having “disruptive ideas,”  is behind the Nicorette campaign.

Later the same day, I was looking at the Costco membership magazine that had recently arrived in the mail. It, too, had a full-page ad for all of Glaxo’s Nicorette products. But interestingly, the Nicorette ad for Costco didn’t contain the word, “suck.” Not even once did it appear in the copy. Did COST nix the “sucks” campaign? Or did GSK specifically gear the Costco ad toward the store’s higher-income, higher-educated membership? Did different demographics in focus groups respond differently to the use of the word, “suck?”

Glaxo is trying to combat declining Nicorette sales. Even though the fourth quarter numbers could be an anomaly because sales of stop-smoking products usually pick up around New Year’s resolution season, it’ll be worth a glance at GSK’s earnings report to see if this campaign worked or if it sucked.

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