In only the second year of a U.S. rollout, Buckley's Mixture -- billed as the awful-tasting yet effective elixir -- will be the focus of an estimated $2 million TV, print and radio ad campaign starting in November.
Also, the marketer today launches its first Web site (www.buckleys.com) and has a series of product-placement deals in place for future movies and TV shows.
With the tagline "It tastes awful. And it works," Buckley makes no attempt to sugarcoat the product. The print schedule includes ads in the National Enquirer for a contest to find the photo of the person with the most gnarled look after tasting the medicine.
"A lot of what we're capitalizing on is that people were raised with the concept that if medicine tastes bad, it works," said David Rieger, VP-sales and marketing. "It's like eating your broccoli."
The ad blitz from Publicis SMW, Toronto, is part of the privately held company's plans to make Buckley's as much of a household name south of the border as it is in its homeland. The standard 200-milliliter bottle of the 79-year-old Buckley's is the best-selling form of cough liquid in Canada.
In the U.S., the marketer is hoping to benefit from that heritage. Focus group research in Boston and New York revealed that Canadians are viewed as hearty souls who know how to treat coughs and colds. Labels refer to the product as "Canada's great medicine."
The U.S. advertising features a coughing man, no Chairman Frank Buckley, the son of the founder, who in Canadian ads plays a role similar to that of Dave Thomas for Wendy's International. One spot featuring Mr. Buckley recently was named one of Canada's top 100 ads of all time.
"The name of the man is the name on the bottle," said Patrick Dickinson, VP-managing director of Publicis SMW. "I think there's some integrity in a known proprietor."
The Buckley's line includes a children's cough medicine ("It works. And it tastes good."). With a bedtime version, the entire Buckley's line has a 12% share of the Canadian market, behind Benylin from Warner-Lambert Co. (at 22%)