We’ve been on a bit of a journey over the past 13 years working with brands including GSK, Seven Seas, Lil-Lets and Bimuno. There’s not a category of Consumer Healthcare marketing that we haven’t worked on. Globally, locally, social, content, web, ecommerce, mobile, search, display – you name it we’ve done it.

We’ve made some great award-winning work, but we’ve also learned a lot about how to win in the highly-regulated world of OTC and Healthcare. So, we thought we’d share some of our thoughts about where things are at, and where they will be in the not-too-distant future.


Micro-moments matter

Our lives are a series of moments connected to each other. Digital media allows us to express these moments, whether they are cries for help, shouts of celebration or long-term evolutions. Smart Consumer Healthcare marketing understands the importance of being there in the Moments That Matter. The first sneeze of the pollen season, the first twinge of a sensitive tooth or the ‘I can’t cope’ moment of a headache. This is how we plan our strategies and campaigns, to be not just consumer-centric but now-centric.

We recently planned a campaign for Day & Night Nurse to help the brand get ahead of the competition when cold and flu season hits. By combining smart targeting and powerful personalisation, we were able to create high impact content that was triggered by search data, geographic variables and Met Office Weather Centre data.

We worked with Google to utilise users’ own search terms, locality and the time of day to generate and trigger 1000s of unique ads to pack a powerful, personalised punch.


There’s no such thing as a low interest category

“But it’s such a low interest category” is something we have heard time and time again. This viewpoint is rooted in old thinking where an advert for toothpaste is just not going to be as exciting as adverts for cars or cake. However, listening to and looking for consumers online reveals that no subject is too mundane for passionate conversations and communities of interest to form. All our projects start with consumer insight as the first step and we have never found a category that doesn’t generate fervent debate and heartfelt discussion.


Meaningful conversations don’t happen on Facebook

In many areas of Consumer Healthcare the conversations that count don’t happen in the full glare of social media. However precious, joyful and hugely insightful conversations can be found hidden in plain sight on the front page of Google. You just have to look a little harder to find them. We always look hard and don’t just use automated tools to make our job easier. This results in genuinely different outcomes.

Our work with Poligrip led us to lively forums such as this one


Education, education, education

Consumer Healthcare is all about the science, right? Only sometimes this makes for bland look-alike campaigns that become wallpaper for consumers. But sometimes by explaining the science simply you can generate category beating results. We applied this to our launch campaign for allergy brand Pirinase creating GSK’s best performing video ever – and one that led to GSK beating the category hands down.

“The VTR (view through rate) for the Piri video smashed targets and has had over 5.5 million views to date.”

Emotion, emotion, emotion

Consumer Healthcare is always about making an emotional connection, right? Only sometimes this makes for content that entirely fails to nail the product USP. When we talked to smokers about NiQuitin we put the smoker, not the science, at the centre of this highly successful campaign.



You can measure digital, and it works

Most digital fails through a lack of investment in both the quality and amplification of content. This leads to impacts that are too small to shift the needle and uninspiring consumer experiences that are instantly forgettable. We know that the right content, in the right channels with the right media spend can even beat TV.

The Ribena Colouring Café

Post GSK’s divestment of the brand, as Ribena’s digital and social agency, we led a multi-agency team to produce a hero campaign of video, web and interactive content, tailored for different social platforms, to ensure optimal engagement. The Ribena Colouring Café experiential event day saw 100 participants enter our café across a single day, choose a colouring tile, and enjoy an hour of colouring-in whilst sampling Ribena Light. Participants were then asked to place their tile on the magnetic wall and were invited back for the reveal. It wouldn’t be Ribena if we simply revealed the final coloured illustration, so the illustration was brought to life through music synced projection mapping.



“The Ribena Colouring Café has become Hall & Partners’ new ‘Best in Class’ for online creative within the FMCG category”

Hall & Partners

“Intent to consider Ribena when shopping for a drink increased by 6 points. This is the top 1% of all FMCG campaigns”

Facebook / Nielsen

Allergies don’t happen in fields, headaches don’t happen on film sets, periods happen all the time and not everybody runs for fun

The world of Consumer Healthcare marketing is riddled with clichés. And not just clichés – fallacies and damaging stereotypes too. We have continually found that condition truth and consumer behaviours do not match the world they are shown in adverts and content. And worse still, much healthcare advertising holds up a lofty ideal of the perfect life as a goal, when many people would just be happy not to sneeze their way through a high pollen day. All this leads to brands becoming disconnected from their consumers, diminishing trust and consumers potentially choosing a more relevant product to them.

Category challenging digital ecosystem for Flonase Global

Flonase is a game-changing allergy treatment from GSK that goes further than traditional antihistamines in blocking all six of the body’s allergic responses. Whilst it had been available as a prescription product in many global markets, our challenge was to manage all aspects of Flonase’s digital launch as an OTC consumer product. Using a combination of social listening, search analysis and unique consumer insight, we found that many allergy brands were out of tune with their consumers, just delivering the same products and rhetoric unchanged for a decade.


With the category dominated by established norms and conventions, to gain stand out we really needed to understand what allergy users thought and felt about their condition, and what they wanted from a brand. Our strategy involved recruiting allergy sufferers at different stages of their allergy journey; delivering compelling content which worked to educate them about their allergies, and communicating Flonase as their new treatment solution. In addition to producing new websites and originating all content for multiple markets, Brass also produced a suite of videos to drive social sharing for this breakthrough brand.


Brands have a duty to their consumers

In a world where everyone has an opinion and everyone is a publisher, what’s a brand to do? A strong trusted brand should act as a clear signpost to consumers, bringing them accurate, reliable, informative and engaging content. Brands who don’t do this run the risk of being undermined by brands that do. This doesn’t mean seeking the easiest or cheapest route, or ruling out partnerships. Instead, it’s crucial to ensure that your brand has a point of view and that it’s easily discovered in the congested digital world.


Specially formulated content for Sensodyne

Leading oral care brand Sensodyne offers a range of products that are specially formulated to treat sensitive teeth. As sensitive teeth can affect almost anyone, we were tasked with driving awareness of the condition as well as increasing sales of the entire Sensodyne range across nine key global markets. Our strategic approach was first informed by an extensive insight programme which incorporated multilingual social listening, search analysis, competitor evaluation and consumer insight. Building on our insight, we then devised a publishing plan of relevant and engaging social content which would really resonate with consumers in each market. Our content, built on the strengths of the Sensodyne brand, was empathetic to sufferers and worked to highlight Sensodyne’s effective solutions for sensitive teeth.


The future is complicatedly easy to predict

The world is full of people forecasting trends – trends that diverge, trends that converge and futurologists making wild predictions about a world that may never be. We prefer to root our thinking in facts. We believe some key trends are impacting Consumer Healthcare marketing in the UK. An increase in urban living, and the rapid digitisation of the world around us (including cashless and shopless shopping), are hugely important. The growing gulf between affluent consumers and those hit by austerity, also means consumer behaviour is more polarised than ever, putting brand products and claims under the spotlight like never before.

Our planning and insight work for Lucozade Ribena Suntory used real data to look at trends across a predicted three-year period. This work has been essential in creating high-level strategic programmes for the LRS brands. We’ve helped our clients set long-term future focussed digital strategies by tracking tech, societal and behavioural data to inform our view on trends.


Consumer Journeys are coming to an end

Consumer Journey models have been a useful tool to help us plan complex multi-channel campaigns. However, they don’t work so well in today’s non-linear world of always-on digital, always-open shops and predictive AI. Brand new services like Uber and AirBnB have turned conventional business models on their heads – they have done this by employing Experience Design thinking.

Guess what?

We think this thinking will have a powerful impact on the future of Consumer Healthcare marketing – in fact, we may not call it marketing anymore.

If you work in Consumer Healthcare and want help with your marketing we’d love to hear from you.

Here’s how you can get in touch:

Pick up the phone and speak to Ruth Page at our Head Office on +44 (0) 113 230 4000

Drop us a line [email protected]

Tweet us @brassagency