Advil sponsorship-venue mix so effective it hurts

Agency/media company

Agency/media company

The Media Edge





Media budget

Less than $1 million

Media used




January through December, 2001

Media team

Shari Read, marketing director, Whitehall-Robins

Carl Schubert, senior product

manager, Whitehall-Robins

Tracy Bellamy, associate media

director, The Media Edge

Jennifer Thompson, media

supervisor, The Media Edge

Shana Cohen, media planner,

The Media Edge

The background

The assignment was to develop a media plan that would create awareness for the Advil muscle pain indication in an environment where the consumer might actually experience the pain resulting from muscle exertion. As one of the leaders in a very competitive analgesic category, we had to deliver a massive impact campaign that would position Advil as an innovator.

The plan

In 2001, we forged a relationship with the amateur athlete and targeted muscle pain sufferers using a unique mix of TV sponsorships and unprecedented out-of-home venues.

The television component included an Advil title sponsorship of the internationally renowned Eco-Challenge on Discovery Channel. The Eco-Challenge and our sponsored competitors, Team Advil, received substantial media coverage and the show exceeded anticipated audience levels by 65%.

Advil also sponsored the Amateur Athlete feature on several local TV newscasts. On TSN, Advil sponsored the Relief Pitcher feature, including a uniquely branded segment looking at sports-related pain following the pitching change. To further extend Advil’s awareness, secondary components like Internet banners, print and P-O-P were folded into the packages.

Next, we placed the Advil muscle message in relevant O-O-H environments, where the consumer might experience muscle pain first hand. Most notably, we transformed the steps of the SkyDome 100-level seating area into an advertising venue – a first for both SkyDome and the pharmaceutical category. Additional media placements included the Union Station stairs, posters in fitness centres, rinkboards in amateur arenas, and granite tee markers on golf courses.

All in all, the 2001 Advil muscle campaign established new standards for a category that is typically limited to a conservative advertising approach.

Television sponsorships

Discovery’s Eco-Challenge

* Team Advil branding

* :05 billboards

* :30 spots

* :30 promotional spots

* tune-in adjacencies

* Advil team vignettes focusing on pain and endurance

* Internet banner

* Team Advil captain featured on the cover of the Discovery guide and in a DPS ad

* Advil-branded P-O-P

The sponsorship built on the popularity of Mark Burnett (producer of Survivor and Eco-Challenge) and established the beginning of a long-term relationship with a growing, international sports event. Advil received extensive PR support, including a media tour of Team Advil that was picked up in both TV and print.

Amateur Athlete of the Week

* Citytv, CP24, CFTO, CFRN billboarded features

* :30 spot

* Advil gift presented on-air

* Logo on Citytv Web site

TSN Relief Pitcher feature

* Squeeze back

* :30 spot

* :15 animated Advil Relief feature

* Advil branded pitching statistics on-screen


SkyDome and Union Station steps

* Advil message was placed on 566 steps in 16 aisles along the first and third baselines in the 100-level seating area at SkyDome

* Double staircase leading to Union Station and Skywalk provided the opportunity to reach the consumer three times… to and from the game as well as at SkyDome

* The words ‘Ouch!, Ouch!’ were placed on the ascending steps, to establish the relationship with the medium and the potential pain the fan may incur climbing the steps

* The Advil tagline was placed at the top of each aisle.

* The placement generated excitement (fans were spotted repeating the words ‘Ouch!, Ouch!’ as they climbed the stairs) and interacted with the consumer

Fitness Centres/Rinkboards/Granite Tee Markers

* 400 posters in fitness clubs across Canada

* 50 rinkboards in amateur arenas across Toronto

* Granite tee markers at 17 golf courses in Ontario and B.C.

The results

* Advil sales continue to rise, and the ‘innovative leader’ perception continues to increase

* Media placement and negotiations assisted Advil’s sales team with product and signage distribution at SkyDome and the golf courses

* The 2000 Eco-Challenge (aired April 2001) achieved phenomenal audiences, 3.8 million viewers 2+, delivering 65% in excess of planned estimates

* 33,000 Advil pills were consumed at the Eco-Challenge alone!

Judges’ verdict

‘Best integration, very creative and well

targeted. This is a strategy that has muscles.’

‘This plan boasts relevant innovation, not just innovation for the sake of differentiation.’