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Ads for dietary supplements have been many things, but rarely intentionally funny. Supplement marketer NBTY and Droga5 are out to change that with a new campaign for Osteo Bi-Flex breaking on NBC's Golden Globe Awards broadcast Jan. 10.
The two ads state a whole new reason for boomers to take supplements: Enhanced ability to embarrass their kids.
One shows a man who, free from joint pain thanks to Osteo Bi-Flex, feels inclined to dance to "Macarena" at his son's wedding reception. "He knows it's working by the look of abject humiliation on his son's face," says a voice-over. In another, Osteo Bi-Flex makes a woman feel good enough to join a yoga class with her daughter, whom she embarrasses by trying to set her up with the instructor.
The campaign comes only four months into a new relationship that provoked the obvious question of what an agency like Droga could do with dietary supplements. And it aims to revive a brand that's been losing sales and share, said Derek Bowen, senior VP-general manager for vitamins, minerals, herbals and supplements at NBTY. The vitamin category overall is up 4% in the past year, but joint care is off 8%, dragged down by leader Osteo Bi-Flex, he said.
Mr. Bowen is part of a new marketing and management team that came to NBTY in April and hired Droga5 in September. NBTY picked the Golden Globes to launch the campaign, he said, because it's a "tentpole event" and January is a key time for the category.
"We came to them even during the pitches and said, 'We're not happy with just about anything we've got,'" Mr. Bowen said. Among other things, Osteo took a misstep in 2014 with a product aimed at people in their mid 30s, who weren't really interested because their joints didn't hurt, he said.
Then last year Osteo redirected efforts toward folks 59 and up, leaning on older ads "showing a set of grandparents who got up at 8 in the morning and did more stuff in a day than a Marine does," he said. "It was aspirational, but it wasn't realistic."
"We looked at who these people really are in their lives and what they aspire to," said Matt Ian, group creative director at Droga5. The insights behind the ads drew on the "Happiness U Curve," he said. It's based on psychological research showing people tend to be happy in their 20s, see that happiness slowly decline until it bottoms out at 42, then get happier later in life, ultimately becoming happier than twentysomethings.