The company last November started testing Bufferin Green, containing Chinese herbs along with the pain relieving ingredients of Bufferin. The kickoff was timed to coincide with the height of Japanese yearend drinking parties, but TV and newspaper ads from Grey Daiko skirted the issue of hangovers, since under Japanese law, no company can claim a cure for that ailment.
Instead, in the 15-second spot, actor Tatsumi Takuro staggers home, where he announces, "My speed was too fast." The line is one the Japanese understand as code for overindulgence. No mention of drinking was allowed either, but the message got across. The herbs aren't detailed in the ads.
Bristol-Myers Lion said Bufferin Green captured about 2% of the $100 million in analgesic sales in Tokyo during its test. Those results are promising enough for the marketer to test Bufferin Green again during Japan's next yearend drinking period.
General Manager Masatake Akedo said the company will have to "evaluate its performance on the Tokyo market" before deciding to go nationwide.
Japanese competitors don't use painkillers in their hangover remedies, relying on herbs to ease indigestion and other stomach ailments, Mr. Akedo said.
He contended it isn't odd for a U.S. company to be dispensing Chinese medicine, since this is a cure the Japanese trust.