In a $25 million campaign from Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York, the marketer seeks to distinguish the brand among stomach acid blockers. Its newest claim: Tagamet can prevent indigestion even when taken immediately before a meal.
TRIP TO THE DRIVE-IN
In the ads, two middle-age men ride up to a '50s-style drive-in restaurant in a convertible. One man begins to order a meal while the other says he can't, since he didn't take a Pepcid AC beforehand. The driver offers a Tagamet HB.
The tagline: "Eat like a kid again."
"Many consumers think that you need to take these products up to an hour before you eat, which has largely kept people away," said Barry Silverstein, senior VP-group director at Jordan McGrath.
The product gives consumers who suffer from heartburn the flexibility to enjoy meals more spontaneously, Mr. Silverstein said.
Many other stomach acid blockers can't make the claim. American Home Products Corp.'s late-arriving Axid AR could, but the company didn't advertise the fact.
Tagamet, the No. 7 brand in the $1.58 billion stomach remedies category, slipped 2.1% in sales, to $87.4 million, for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 23, according to Information Resources Inc.
The longtime leader is Johnson & Johnson/Merck's Pepcid AC, though its sales have flattened out at $225.3 million.
FACING GENERIC COMPETITION
Tagamet also faces generic competition and local advertising from manufacturer Pharmaceutical Formulations, which has created TV spots for co-op use with retailers. The ads are running in various markets.
Private-label products have enjoyed 7.2% growth in the overall stomach remedies category, with sales at $158 million.