Cold war agent Zicam uses lunar levity in ads

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This winter's campaign for Zicam nasal gel seeks to portray the anti-cold agent as out of this world.

The effort from Gel Tech, a joint venture between publicly traded Gum Tech International and closely held BioDelivery Technologies, uses the 1969 trip to the moon as a foil to demonstrate the product's effectiveness.

Both a TV spot and print execution observe conventional wisdom holds "you can put a man on the moon, but you can't do anything about the common cold."

Enter Zicam, which the ads liken to "another giant leap for mankind."

Ads, which launch Oct. 23 and are scheduled to run through March, tout new research that shows Zicam, more than the run-of-the-mill over-the-counter cold fighter, can shorten the duration of a cold by an average 71%. That figure stems in part from research scheduled to appear in the October issue of medical publication Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.

Gel Tech feels Zicam's ability to trim a cold's length significantly gives it a measure of distinctiveness in the crowded OTC anti-cold market, where companies marketing lozenges, liquids and tablets all claim to offer panaceas in a package.

"Our unique point of difference is that Zicam actually reduces the duration of the cold, while most other cold remedies mask symptoms," said Michelle Rossow, Gel Tech's marketing director.

The product also is believed to be the only zinc-based nasal gel on the market. Competitor Quigley markets zinc-based lozenges under its Cold-Eeze brand.

Zicam was launched last winter with a budget of about $2 million. The company said it plans to boost spending significantly this time around, though it declined to release figures.


TV last year used spot buys in key markets, but the marketer will employ national spots this winter concentrating on the morning and late nighttime slots. Ads will run on programs from NBC's "Today" to "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." A radio buy on the "Howard Stern Show" will also be used.

The ads, from Kovel/Fuller, Culver City, Calif., continue to use the tag "Get Zicam and get well sooner."

A 15-second teaser spot shows a medicine cabinet cluttered with cold remedies. A voice-over suggested taking "a different approach to fighting a cold," when a pair of arms rips the medicine cabinet out of the wall and replaces it with Zicam.

In the second spot, which runs 30 seconds, two astronauts float to Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube" waltz -- echoing its use in the movie classic "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- when a rookie astronaut sneezes and hits his head on the wall. After the voice-over notes that science can put a man on the moon but not cure the common cold, a veteran astronaut hands the rookie Zicam.

"We dramatized how in close quarters people freak out when someone sneezes," said Lee Kovel, partner and creative director at Kovel/Fuller.

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