Aleve goes back to roots

By Published on .

After trading blows with pain-relief competitor Tylenol in a series of lawsuits, Bayer AG plans a new advertising strategy that plays up its Aleve brand's beginnings as a prescription pain reliever rather than compare it to its over-the-counter competition.

A new spot in the works by Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, Chicago, features animated pill bottles and claims to be "the closest thing you can get to prescription pain relief." It continues the "All day strong. All day long" tagline and will be released as early as next week on daytime TV.

While No. 3 brand Aleve's roughly $145 million in sales is half that of Tylenol's $541 million brand dominance in the $2 billion analgesic tablet category, according to Information Resources Inc., both marketers have relied on the courts as a way to squash competitive marketing claims. Bayer spent $43.8 million in measured media on Aleve in 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Earlier campaigns equated Aleve's pain-fighting power to that of category leader Tylenol. Tylenol's owner, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Consumer Products, in August filed a federal false-advertising suit in a Newark, N.J, Federal District Court, which was recently dismissed. Bayer filed a false-advertising claim lawsuit in April against McNeil for its St. Joseph's Aspirin brand advertising. A McNeil spokesman said the company is "evaluating its legal options" concerning the Tylenol case. He added the St. Joseph's case is "still in litigation, no resolution."

no lawsuit link

A Bayer spokeswoman denied that there is a link between the McNeil lawsuit and the new Aleve ad. In a statement she said: "The goal of the new Aleve advertising is to communicate the unique ingredient heritage of the brand." While calling the category "highly litigious," Anne Dooley, BBDO exec VP-client service director, said the new campaign is about staying ahead of the competitive fray.

"For the last couple of years, Aleve was growing because of a very effective campaign and everybody started ripping us off," she said. "So we always have several alternate campaigns in test. This [ad] is highly persuasive because it uses an unexpected frame of reference. Rather than comparing ourselves to other OTC brands, we're comparing ourselves to [direct-to-consumer] and [prescription] products."

Most Popular
In this article: