Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tylenol Has Timing

There's a new TV campaing from Tylenol, featuring the people who "make" Tylenol, promising that they don't make store brands.

A couple of comments:

First, while not specifically targeting Boomers, this new effort from Johnson & Johnson's brand couldn't have been timed better. With all the product recalls and quality questions coming out of products made in China for human (and animal) consumption, either this is lucky timing on their part, or a fast and smart reaction to current events.

We don't know if store brand pain relievers are made in China, but based on what is made there, it is likely.

In any event, even if everything "Made in China" was perfect, this strategy of combatting store brands is smart. Most consumers think acetaminophen is the same, no matter the brand on the label. What we like about this effort is that it is for consumers of any age, or "ageless" as David Wolfe calls it, or "age neutral" according to Dick Stroud. This is what more brands should strive for in their messaging.

So on the one hand, it is simply smart advertising for a venerable brand to fend off all pretenders.

But our second comment is the other hand: Claiming that what makes Tylenol different is that their people are different -- somehow caring more or having stronger values because they refuse to make store brands -- is a bit of a reach. Do these on camera employees really get a say in deciding if the company makes store brands or not?

We're reminded of a long dead campaign from Bank One where the tagline was "2,000 people who care." As they acquired more banks in more states the tagline grew until it ultimately became "18,000 people who care." Who believes that? Surely there is one person out of 18,000 who doesn't give a damn.

It's difficult if not impossible to use "our people are different" and have it mean much for today's jaded consumer at any age. Unless, of course, your "people" all have an extra digit or some other extraordinary feature.

Kudos for Tylenol for good timing and an overall smart strategy. But no kudos for the use of their people.

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