Panadol Extra’s Marketing Campaign as Wake up Call

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Raheem Akingbolu reviews Panadol Extra’s new campaign, which was recently unveiled to celebrate ‘Toughies’

Who is a Toughie? …which is currently running across various media platforms is woven around individuals, who derive pleasure in helping others. The lead cast; Peter Okon, who plays the role of an emergency responder, is seeing in the television commercial putting all his efforts into saving lives and helping people. Okon appears determined and happy doing what he is doing selflessly, despite the challenges and the hazard involved. He is seeing on the street, especially accident scenes, trying to save lives.

‘’During an emergency, people tend to run away from the scene of danger; my job requires I do the exact opposite, to save people. It is tough but it is the most fulfilling job I could ever have chosen.

Of course, this doesn’t go unnoticed as many people wonder how he finds it easy doing what he is doing. This is shown through another member of the cast, Chidi Iheme, who, in appreciation of what Okon does, ponders and wonders what motivates the ‘strongman’.

‘’Peter is passionate, very committed, pushing his body to its limits but he never quits. Sometimes, I see the pains but keeps moving, people wonder how he does it, ’’ Iheme observed.
Through his countenance and mood, it is easy to see sincerity and appreciation in Iheme’s voice. He feels concerned about his countryman, who is doing great by helping others. He feels for him, as well as telling other Nigerians the beauty of helping people in need.

In what looks like a direct response to Iheme’s concern, the light beams on Okon reviewing his activities and telling the world how passionate he is about what he does. Of course, he admits that it is not easy doing what he does but he is quick to add that he doesn’t mind and that he has no time for pain when he has people in pain. Okon shares the story of a young girl who was involved in an accident and how he felt bad seeing ‘a once lovely face’ in pain. Of course, the video beams at how Okon and others are struggling to save the young girl.

To show that the acts are selfless, he adds; ‘’Most of the time, I don’t hear from the victims after they have been taken to the hospital,’’ he said.

However, just when he was done for the day’s job, and set to start his motorcycle, he received a visitor. The young girl who was saved from the accident scene had impressed it on her mum that she wanted the man who saved her life to have a share of her birthday cake.

On sighting ‘her messiah’, the young girl detaches from her mum and ran forward as she hands the cake over to Okon, who collects it with all enthusiasm. Relating his experience, Okon points out that he could see the appreciation on the face of the mother of the young girl.

To connect the campaign with the brand, the TVC is cleverly put together to show that Okon and other people involved in skilful jobs rely on Panadol Extra, to kill their own pains. From time to time, Okon is seeing reaching out to get a pack of Panadol Extra. To further push the brand, Panadol Extra ad is conspicuously shown on the lampposts that lines up on the street where the video was shot.
The campaign has a strong PR focus, already shown on television, also spanning across social media and leveraging influencers – a departure from its TV focus.

The message

Through the TVC, makers of Panadol Extra are calling on Nigerians to be their brothers’ keeper. ‘’Hey! It’s always heart-warming to hear some good news about homeland Nigeria. So, how sacrificial do you think we are as a people? I bet a lot of you don’t know that Nigerians are very sacrificial with their time and resources,’’ a statement issued by the company had stated.

In 2017, ‘The World Giving Index’, a global view of giving trends carried out by the Charity Aids Foundation (CAF) ranked Nigeria 6th amongst 135 other countries as a country of people who help others especially strangers. Nigeria was also in the top 10 as a country of people who volunteer their time to help others.

This finding and many indices must have influenced the management of GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), manufacturers of Panadol Extra to focus its currently running campaign on how well to appreciate individuals, who go extra the mile to help others. For a household brand like Panadol Extra, which has existed for about six decades, the campaign can be said to also reflect on how the pain reliever has helped millions of consumers to get over their pains.

Across social media, there are conversations about the campaign and an attempt to describe who a toughie is; an everyday character with tough moral fiber who goes the extra mile to help others in their day jobs, never stopping for the many pains they endure as a result of it? Tough people, who would not give up on a task no matter how hard and difficult, just to put a smile on the faces of others even when going through tough pains?

The statement goes further to say ‘these set of amazing people will go all out just for the happiness and wellbeing of others. They are selfless and tireless in their pursuit of their day job; at times we wonder where they get their strength, because nothing seems to stop them, not even pain’.

‘’We all know at least one person like that; we have them in our lives, we wonder what keeps them going and at times we aspire to be just like them. Check your circle of friends, check your office, check your family; check the street corner and you would find them… You know one common thing about these people? They go unappreciated most of the time. They are Toughies!

‘’With the many pressures of life, it is easy to take people and things for granted and never stopping to appreciate them. Panadol Extra wants to celebrate these Toughies. It’s the #Panadol ExtraToughies campaign. Join the conversation on social using the hash tag #Panadol ExtraToughies,’’ the company stated.

Looking at the profile of the brand in its 60-year history, it appears in recent time, Panadol Extra campaigns are being used to sermonise the people about doing good. In its core brand campaign launched last year, where the brand features Radio star, Fitzy, it reminds Australians to take time away from their devices and reconnect with friends and families.

In the 90-second film, Fitzy and his family enter the Home of Reconnection, which is devoid of all technology and devices. It invites guests to lock away their devices, switch off life’s headaches that are often caused by technology overload and reconnect with family and friends.

Setting and message

One other thing perhaps that I like is the local content. Unlike many of such television commercials that are recorded in foreign lands, ‘who is a toughie’ is shot in Nigeria. Through the yellow taxis in the video and other local aesthetics, it is easy to establish that the TVC was 100 percent Nigerian. This is a plus for GSK and the creative agency as they align with the local content specification, being clamoured for by Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria.
Over the years, regulatory bodies have expressed dissatisfaction with the non-promotion of local content in creative works emanating from local advertising agencies.

Proponents of increased local content in creative works meant for exposure in Nigeria media often wonder why the setting, cast and even voice over in some commercials have been entirely foreign – a situation, which they argue, has denied Nigerian talents from being engaged by local practitioners. By extension, it is also believed that highest percentage of what is accruing to ad spending go to foreign hands.

On the other hand, ad practitioners have argued that shortage of required technology and at times manpower force agencies to look elsewhere for shooting of commercials. In the last few years, South Africa, Dubai and the United Kingdom are said to be the most visited locations for Nigerian practitioners.

Though considered in some quarters to be a belated move, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) through its Committee on Advertising Practice Reforms (ACARP) few years ago, reeled out a new guideline to advertising practice in Nigeria. Top on the new reform was the resolute use of local production of commercial films intended for the Nigerian market. The council based this on the need to ensure stricter professionalism within the advertising industry and practice.

To a large, extent, GSK and the creative agency that handled the TVC, appeared to have gotten it right in their choice of cast and setting and this will go a long way in connecting the brand with Nigerians.