Best use of television: Winner

Agency/media operation

Agency/media operation

Le Groupe TMC


Pfizer Consumer Healthcare




$200,000 – $300,000

Media used





October to December 2003

Media team

Annie Lazure, senior media executive, Le Groupe TMC

Jill Appelbaum, group account director, Le Groupe TMC

Nicolas Pepin, category manager, Pfizer Consumer Health

The background

In the fall of 2003, the Nicorette brand team was looking for ways to increase awareness among its core target audience – smokers 25 to 54 – and find opportunities to clearly demonstrate Nicorette’s benefits as a smoking cessation aid in its most challenging market: Quebec.

While Nicorette gum has been a highly successful brand on a national basis for over 20 years, the Quebec market has remained chronically underdeveloped. Increased competition was also on its way via private label. Something had to be done.

The plan

Our team scouted the market to identify a property that would engage the target in a high-reach/high-profile environment. We were looking for the opportunity to interact directly with consumers. As part of our search we contacted the producers of new TV reality shows on Télévision Quatre-Saisons (TQS).

Loft Story is an adaptation of the number-one hit reality TV program of the same name in France, and is fashioned after the American version of Big Brother. The show involves 12 participants isolated in a loft over a 63-day period, captured on tape 24/7. Each week, the viewers determine which lofters stay and which one leaves, until one couple remains at the end of the nine-week program.

Nicorette forged a key partnership with the show, which included brand sell and sponsor billboards, and the design of a full product integration program.

The Loft was designated as a smoke-free environment, with smokers having to go outside to light up…a perfect opportunity for a smoker to quit!

On the first night of the show, the host invited the smokers in the group to take the Nicorette Challenge and quit for good. Two lofters agreed. They were given kits by Nicorette to help them quit and a regular weekly on-air feature tracked their progress.

Viewers were also invited to take the Challenge alongside the participating lofters. A Web-based promotional component offered entrants the opportunity to win $10,000 cash, provided they used Nicorette to remain smoke-free for the entire 63-day period.

A special edition Loft Story Magazine was also produced to track ongoing progress on the show. The magazine included a special article written specifically about Nicorette.

The results

Loft Story was the most successful program on the TQS network for the fall 2003 season. Drawing on average 1.2 million viewers for each episode, it beat initial audience projections by 40%. This tremendous performance provided significant media visibility for the Nicorette brand.

Even more amazing was the effectiveness of the Nicorette Challenge. Over 2,000 viewers attempted to make it through the entire 63-day period smoke-free, using Nicorette. This level of success even surpassed the participation rate of popular government-driven initiatives, such as the ‘J’arrête J’y Gagne’ program in Quebec in 2003.

The judges rave…

‘The strong integration of Nicorette into Loft Story plays on the strength of the reality-TV genre to generate buzz factor amongst viewers. Most likely, both the smoking challenge and Nicorette were the subject of much water-cooler talk the day following each episode. The execution will do a lot to establish Nicorette as ‘the’ smoking-cessation brand, in the face of upcoming competition.’

‘Great example of Nicorette product placement in the show Loft Story – a

top-rated TQS program.’