Ricola hacks Instagram posts to focus on efficacy

A disruptive creative approach aims to change perceptions about the brand only offering "mild" cough drops.


By Deidre Olsen

In the last year, Ricola’s Extra Strength cough drop has become number one in its product category. It has seen double digit growth in gross dollar sales over the last year, outpacing other national brands.

But that doesn’t mean Ricola hasn’t faced challenges getting there. The brand has historically had its cough drops categorized as “mild,” so to change perceptions in the minds of consumers, it has taken a more disruptive creative format in marketing its extra strength product as efficacy becomes a bigger factor in purchase decisions.

“The cough and cold category is a crowded space with four to five national brands, as well as control label,” says Steve Miller, VP and ECD of Fuse (which led creative on the campaign). “Many brands already play with the high efficacy space, but none can match the combination of efficacy, taste, and a bit of nature the way Ricola can.“

The cough drop brand’s latest ads take the form of “hacked” Instagram posts: an avalanche falls from a snowy peak towards the viewer, until the mountain from which it came is completely obscured and the text in the caption blown away. But the snow clears, revealing different coloured packages of Ricola cough drops, with the blue, extra-strength icy menthol at the front. Underneath, the brand name sits atop the phrase “soothe your worst cough and throat symptoms.”

Ricola developed its Extra Strength line last year to provide consumers with a great-tasting, more efficacious cough drop. The goal, Miller says, is to help people achieve stronger results, with the same natural ingredients and proprietary blend of ten Alpine herbs, but made with three times more menthol than the company’s Original drop.

“We need to draw attention to the strength of Ricola’s natural herbs in a break-through way,” says Miller. “By ‘hacking’ these social media video units, we do just that, visually and from a communication standpoint. It’s that ability to stop people in their tracks as they thumb their way through Instagram and Facebook – disrupt their normal behaviour to ensure the message is heard and the brand is top-of-mind.”

Since launching, 75% of the people who viewed the ads have done so to completion. The campaign will soon be adapted to the U.S. market as well.