McCann London


Client: Reckitt
Product: Nurofen
Title: SwearLab
Media: Film
Country: UK
Date Of Campaign: 17 July 2019

Background: The body pain category is growing; but Nurofen was missing out. With the increase of ‘own brand’ medicines, customers were seeking cheaper alternatives.Nurofen may be a market leader in headaches, but they were a total challenger brand when it came to body pain, occupying only 2% value share of the lucrative £115m body pain market. Minuscule compared to Voltarol (37.2%) and Deep Heat (23.9%).They were armed with a game-changing new product that gave them a real right to play - a medicated plaster that can deliver 24 hours of relief. But with limited category salience or credibility, they risked not being heard. It was our task to launch this new product with an idea that would cut through the noise and cement Nurofen as the experts when it comes to understanding pain.

Idea: With the category dominated by brands celebrating the pain-relieving properties of their innovative new products, we instead chose to celebrate the pain-relieving properties of the human body. We discovered a little-known study conducted in 2009 by Dr Richard Stephens from Keele University which found that swearing when in pain could help provide relief – That’s right, swearing. But for us Brits, dropping the F-bomb in front of your kids or colleagues raises eyebrows. So, we had an idea. Could we invent a new ‘socially acceptable’ swearword with the same pain-relieving properties? Nurofen SwearLab was born. We teamed up with Dr Richard Stephens, a lexicographer, a linguist, and a swearing expert (yes, they exist) to come up with new sociably acceptable swearwords. After much deliberation they settled on ‘FOUCH’ – an ode to F***ing Ouch and ‘TWIZPIPE’ and tested them under strict scientific conditions to see if our hypothesis was true.The SwearLab film was launched across social channels as well as paid media on YouTube. However, what started as a UK centric campaign quickly spread, as the provocative study was picked up organically by media outlets and shared across the globe. The study was also officially peer-reviewed and published to the science community, adding a further level of credibility to the campaign.For once, a brand wasn’t doing the hard-sell on a new product, instead educating the audience about their body whilst proving that they were the experts in pain management and in doing so Nurofen gave the public a reason to opt for them next time they were in pain.

Results: The SwearLab campaign transcended the pain relief category and entered popular culture – the science behind the swear really resonated with our audience and became a talking point in the media. Perceptions to Nurofen also flipped, with a new-found respect for a global pharmaceutical brand making light of the subject and daring to put its name to the study.The story was picked up by press around the globe, from UK to USA to Australia, including Forbes, The New York Post, The Sun, The Mirror, and The Guardian, and received substantial airtime on BBC World News and Good Morning Britain - generating Earned media of 248M impressions. On a business level, it became Nurofen’s most successful product launch to date. Nurofen’s value share of the topical body pain market grew 16.5% while the category only grew by 8.1%. With Voltarol, our main competitor, only growing by 9.1%. We overtook Voltarol’s market share of patches with a record score of 5.4%. And exceeded our sales target by 30%, outselling Voltarol’s patches, despite less distribution.Awareness & consideration grew significantly amongst those exposed to the ad with 18% uplift spontaneous awareness, And 13% uplift in consideration. And better still, ‘most effective’ and ‘recommended by pharmacists’ increased by 10% and 23% respectively. Given that this is an over-the-counter product, this made a huge difference.

← Back to all Categories

Branded Content