Take a look inside your medicine cabinet. Chances are yours is one of the 40 percent of households that currently have Pepto-Bismol sitting on the shelf. Now think of when you actually purchased that bottle. Can’t remember? You’re not alone.
Well-known but seldom-used Pepto-Bismol decided summer 2010 was the time to encourage consumers to get the medicine out of the cabinet and take one more dose of the pink stuff. MSL Chicago and the Procter & Gamble brand team looked for ways to drive relevance by reminding consumers that Pepto has them covered during key indulgent occasions; we devised a strategy that led to the first-ever PR-led, integrated initiative that included out-of-home and print advertising, interactive and retail components.
How better to do this than by partnering with the ultimate in summer overindulgence, the Nathan’s Famous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest? And that was just the beginning. MSL Chicago traveled to food festivals across the country with world champion competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, reminding consumers to reach for the Pepto. The result: the brand saw a significant increase in sales: up 10 percent nationally and 20 percent in New York.
Challenges and Opportunities
Brand research found the target consumer has Pepto in their medicine cabinet because they never know when they might need it, but they rarely reach for it because they aren’t sure if the occasion really requires it. We saw an opportunity to remind these consumers about appropriate usage occasions, letting them know the brand has them covered whenever and wherever their stomach takes them.
The target audience was consumers who have Pepto in the home but use it infrequently. These are typically men and women ages 18 to 49 who suffer from — and whose families suffer from — stomach problems including heartburn, nausea, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea, gas or fullness.
MSL Chicago conducted extensive research in three areas. First, we identified relevant partnerships that not only embodied overindulgence but were marquee enough to generate national media attention. Second, we identified a spokesperson who personified the quirkiness of the brand and who had an authentic tie to it Finally, MSL Chicago sought out food-related partners with events in Pepto priority markets.
After researching options, the team selected Major League Eating (MLE), the governing body behind hundreds of sanctioned eating contest throughout the country. We identified Joey Chestnut, the top-ranked eater, as the official spokesperson for the campaign. Finally, the team narrowed down events and recommended hosting eating contests at the Bite of Oregon, the Austin Ice Cream Festival, the San Francisco Street Food Festival and the National Buffalo Wing Festival in New York.
MSL Chicago’s strategy was to increase consumption of Pepto-Bismol in households that already have it in their medicine cabinets by reminding consumers that Pepto has them covered during key indulgent occasions. The team sought to strengthen the connection between summertime food and Pepto-Bismol by
• Encouraging consumers to use Pepto one more time and increase consumption and household purchase penetration of Pepto-Bismol
• Driving national reach through televised coverage of Pepto's sponsorship of summertime eating competitions and generate 520 million media impressions
• Driving association of Pepto's relevance for summertime overindulgence in venues where consumers are enjoying summertime foods (e.g., BBQ)
Tactics for the summer public relations program included:
• MSL Chicago executed two-phased strategy to reach national and local television, daily newspapers, radio, wire services, online and bloggers while supporting other aspects of the program.
• First announced the sponsorship of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest via an exclusive Wall Street Journal article in June 2010, then announced the four-city tour with Joey Chestnut to continue media buzz.
• Coordinated sponsorship of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, including branded signage, logo on championship belt, t-shirts and product integration of winner taking Pepto-Bismol after contest
• Conducted extensive national media outreach offering interviews with spokes-eaters via morning shows, entertainment shows, sports television/radio and print
• Ensured Pepto messaging was incorporated in all interviews and ESPN broadcast
• Shot and distributed b-roll to local media outlets across country
• Featured Pepto-branded photo cut-out with upload to Facebook and passed out branded thundersticks
Social Media Amplification
• Pitched key food, sports and lifestyle bloggers leveraging MLE partnership and spokes-eaters
• Developed content calendar for Pepto-Bismol official Facebook page
• Created infographic and seeded to bloggers and citizen journalists
• Utilized micro-contests with product giveaways
Food Festival Execution
• Conducted local media outreach announcing appearance at festivals via sports television/radio, print and bloggers
• Partnered with local radio stations for contests for chance to compete against Joey
• Ensured Pepto messaging was incorporated in all media interviews on-site
• Featured Pepto-branded photo cut-out upload to Facebook and passed out branded thundersticks
• Held eating contests with Joey versus five people
Evaluation of Success/Measurement
Encourage consumers to use Pepto one more time and increase consumption and household purchase penetration of Pepto-Bismol
• Sales of Pepto-Bismol increased 10 percent during the month of July
• Sales increased 20 percent in New York, location of the Nathan’s Contest
Drive national reach through televised coverage of Pepto's sponsorship of summertime eating competitions and generate 520 million media impressions
• Garnered more than 1 billion impressions in three months, with placements still coming in
• Secured coverage in many top-tier national broadcast, print and online outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN, CNBC and Today show
• Reached more consumers through PR in two weeks than in the full previous fiscal year.
• Pepto-Bismol was featured continuously throughout the live ESPN broadcast, which garnered its’ highest ratings ever.
Drive association of Pepto's relevancy for summertime overindulgence in venues where consumers are enjoying "summertime" foods (i.e. BBQ)
• Increased social media discussion of Pepto-Bismol with more than 650 tweets, nearly 41,000 Facebook “Likes” and an unprecedented number of Google product searches.