Mr. Mucus has survived a change of agencies. But in the first work by McCann since the agency won the Mucinex account, he's "evolved" into a "snotty little anti-hero" moving from a 2-D world to a somewhat lesser role in a 3-D existence.
An in-house team at Adams Respiratory Therapeutics created the green spokeslime in 2004 and he survived the transition when RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser) bought the brand in 2007. He carried years of sales and share gains on his viscous green shoulders. But he -- and his extended family -- seemed like an endangered species when the company moved the account, along with sibling cough-syrup brand Delsym, to McCann in May following a sales slowdown last cold and flu season.
But Mr. Mucus lives on in the new "Let's End This" integrated marketing campaign, which succeeds the 10-year-old "Mucinex In. Mucus Out" campaign and tagline.
Mr. Mucus "will come out into the real world and flaunt the many ways he provokes misery" in new ads. He also has a new voice, a bit kinder, gentler and less New York, during his first cameo appearance in a teaser ad for the new campaign.
The idea is about empowering cold and flu sufferers, who up to now have been portrayed "as passive, curled up and miserable" in category advertising, said Shivanthi Vannan, marketing director-healthcare at RB, in a statement.
Mr. Mucus "has the distinction of being one of the most recognized but least-liked ad characters in the world," said McCann, New York, Chief Creative Officer Tom Murphy in a statement. "In other words, he is a huge asset to Mucinex." The old Mr. Mucus can be seen in the spot below.
Besides a 30-second teaser TV spot breaking this week, the campaign also has kicked off with native content on Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, with other TV, print, social and digital ads to break throughout cold and flu season.
Mucinex got $57 million in measured media support last year, down from $92 million in 2012, according to Kantar Media, as an unusually harsh cold and flu season gave way to an unusually mild one. This year is already looking better for RB, with its cold-flu sales up 15.7% for the 12 weeks ended Sept. 27, vs. down 3.1% for the full 52 weeks, according to Nielsen data from Deutsche Bank.