Allergy FX puts itself to the test

The launch campaign for the natural allergy treatment banks on the bona fides of its clinical trials.

Natural allergy relief product Allergy FX has launched with a campaign that aims to differentiate it from other natural health products by focusing on the clinical trials that prove its effectiveness.

In a pair of 15-second spots that have begun airing on mass and specialty broadcasters in both English and French, allergy sufferers seem overjoyed at the prospect of being in a room with ragweed and cats, as the camera pulls out and shows they are chained and tied down to test Allergy FX’s effectiveness.

Studio M led creative on the spots, with Mass Minority planning and executing the broader campaign. There are also print ads in health magazines and a media relations component, including having the company’s allergy experts interviewed on radio health programs. Susan Yorke, VP of marketing at parent company Trusted Health Group, says there is also a digital play planned for the long-term that will be focused heavily on social and brand ambassadors.

“It might be a bit different from typical CPG where it’s heavy on banner ads, but our strategy is to build a relationship and loyalty with consumers, as opposed to just building awareness,” Yorke says.

Allergy FX was created by Dr. Jacqueline Shan, who also created natural cold remedy Cold-FX as president and co-founder of Afexa Life Sciences. In 2011, Dr. Shan left Afexa after it was acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals. She started a new company, Afinity Life Sciences, which was acquired by Trusted Health Group last year.

Afexa and Valeant are currently fighting a lawsuit first launched in 2012 by a Vancouver Island resident claiming the companies “knowingly or recklessly” promoted Cold-FX as providing immediate relief of cold and flu symptoms if taken over a three-day period at the first sign of illness despite evidence to the contrary. Earlier this month, lawyers for the complainant applied to grant the lawsuit class action status. Valeant continues to fight the claims, which have not been proven in court.

Yorke says she has been working with Dr. Shan for over a year-and-a-half on the branding and positioning for Allergy FX, and the recent press around Cold-FX is an unfortunate coincidence that hasn’t had an impact on the plan and consumer research they’ve been doing. The positioning established for Allergy FX is less about distancing itself from Cold-FX and more about differentiating itself from other natural health products on the market.

“There’s lots of natural options out there for pretty much any ailment and issue you can imagine,” Yorke says. “But in terms of multi-symptom allergy relief, there’s been nothing that has clinically proven efficacy. That’s a pretty big game changer in terms of what consumers expect, so we wanted to play that up because it’s a big differentiator.”

Yorke says while the broad target is the 33% of Canadians who suffer from seasonal and environmental allergies, the bull’s-eye is similar to that of over-the-counter allergy products.

“We call her the chief health officer. She has a crazy busy life, but is also in charge of health care and nutrition for her family,” Yorke says. “She’s a pretty tough audience, but that’s who we’re looking to speak to, and we’re trying to get her to be an early adopter.”