Johnson & Johnson and Saatchi & Saatchi gave Tylenol its second consecutive Super Bowl appearance in the 1996 game, but this time gave viewers something more a little more fun than commiserating with the aching family man of 1995. With a deft combination of game-day-appropriate sports figures and funny delivery, the ad works.
It also belies the competition heating up in over-the-counter painkillers at the time. J&J had gone on the offensive in 1995, questioning the safety of ibuprofen, the key ingredient in American Home Products’ Advil. American Home Products responded with ads pointing out the alcohol-interaction warning on Tyelnol labels and suggesting that Advil was perhaps the safer product. By 1996, J&J was spending $212 million on advertising Tylenol through Saatchi & Saatchi’s Healthcare Connection.
None of that needed to come through on a day when consumers just wanted to have fun, however, and Tylenol’s Super Bowl XXX ad keeps it light. Tylenol would make it a Super Bowl threepeat in 1997 ("Practice"). Advil had run Super Bowl ads relatively recently, in 1987, 1991 and 1992, but after that left the game to Tylenol until 2016 ("Distant Memory").
AGENCY: Saatchi & Saatchi