Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Twice the selling power

Here's a little quiz for all you marketing geniuses out there.  Watch the commercial and see if you can you spot the genius behind it?



No, I don't mean Speedy Alka-Seltzer, memorable little spokes-imp that he was.  I'm referring to the new strategic message this spot contains, though it's probably not obvious some 50 years later.  As Mary Wells Lawrence explains in her engaging (if a bit schoolgirl-gushy at times) memoir, "A Big Life (in advertising), she realized that Alka-Seltzer needed to move beyond just being seen as a remedy for indigestion and heartburn, and be seen as something to take for a variety of life's aches and pains.  She continues:
"We met a doctor...who demonstrated to us that in order for aspirin to break through the pain barrier it often required two aspirins, not one, to do the job.  As aspirin is one of the ingredients that make Alka-Seltzer effective, we asked if two Alka-Seltzers were better than one.   Yes, two would work better than one."
With this information, Ms. Wells convinced the client to change the usage directions to specify two tablets and began packaging them in pairs.  Accordingly, they changed the advertising to always show two Alka-Seltzer tablets dropping into the water.  And to make sure consumers started thinking in twos (and remember the overall benefit), the message was very effectively reinforced by the musical couplet, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz / Oh, what a relief it is."

The result?  Miles Laboratories sold twice as much Alka-Seltzer.

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