Bayer revives Phillips icons

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Bayer Consumer Care returns to decade-old ad icons Raymond and Maureen in a spot for its Phillips' Milk of Magnesia next month.

Over the years, Maureen has become well known for her brazenness in discussing the arguably personal topic of laxative use with total strangers and passion for touting Phillips as the product of choice. In the process, her more-reserved "husband" can usually be found cringing at her boldness.

The actors portraying Raymond and Maureen (Lee Duncan and Gail Neely), honoring last year's commercial actors' strike, had been on hiatus from the campaign. But in the latest spot from Omnicom Group's New York-based BBDO Worldwide, Maureen is back, popping out of a bus-stop billboard as a woman takes a competing product to tell her, "Take that laxative and you've missed the bus." Her main reasoning: Unlike other laxatives, Phillips has no stimulants, which can cause faintness, cramps and other problems.

Bayer uses a so-called stimulant-free strategy to differentiate Phillips from Schering-Plough Corp.'s Correctol and others. It employs the tagline: "Phillips. The Comfortable Way."

Though Maureen plays her traditional nosy role, Raymond breaks slightly from his. He makes a brief cameo at the end.

During the lengthy work stoppage, Bayer used an animated spot for Phillips, but is pleased to have the quirky duo back, which it believes resonates with laxative users for the 125-year-old brand.

"After supporting the brand for 10 years, Raymond and Maureen are part of Phillips' advertising equity," said Jay Kolpon, Bayer Consumer Care's VP-marketing. "They're very, very trusted, very believable."

Bayer Consumer Products supported Phillips' with $11.2 million in measured spending in 2000, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Separately, Bayer next month takes a slightly new approach with its "added value" strategy for its flagship aspirin brand. The company has been plugging aspirin both as a pain reliever and an ally in fighting cardiovascular disease, including as a potential life-saver if taken during a heart attack. It is that message that Bayer hopes will make the brand an absolute staple of every medicine chest.

But now, in a spot from BBDO, the company targets women directly for the first time. The ad features a 60-something woman at a family reunion who speaks about how the aspirin she had in the house to treat her arthritis helped save her life when she took it during a heart attack. "If it weren't for my wife's arthritis, she wouldn't be here today," her "husband" says.

The ad targets women because they are known in the health care field as "gatekeepers" or people making the purchasing and leadership decisions for the household (the "heart of the family," according to Bayer). They also have high incidences of heart attacks.

"The reality is there's a lot of awareness around breast cancer, but it's unknown what a serious disease heart disease is for women," Mr. Kolpon said.

The spot follows an ad starring actor Ben Vereen that Bayer launched in January with a similar message that aspirin does more than fight pain. Bayer was supported with $45.5 million in measured spending last year, according to CMR.

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