Ricola looks for its everyday efficacy voice

The lozenge brand is in market during a shoulder season to test warm-weather messaging and offset a big category downturn.


Amidst a category downturn, Ricola Canada is highlighting its year-round efficacy to increase household penetration.

“Everyday Voice,” a digital campaign created by Toronto agency Fuse Create, features four different videos showing a flapping animated uvula variously screaming, yelping and cheering on mountaintops, mountain bikes, roller coasters and court-side at a basketball game.

“We want to show off the versatility of the product while reminding consumers that Ricola is the perfect partner to them, for any occasion during the year,” says Alok Ummat, director of marketing, of the videos, all of which is from a mouth’s POV. “All the creative is centred around being ‘mouth-forward.”

According to its insights, lozenge demand is actually more year-round than anticipated, with 30% of people relying on the product for relief beyond cough and cold season. While focusing on “everyday use” was something the brand explored in its first Super Bowl buy, it’s testing everyday messaging around things like tired voices throughout the year, rather than one built around people falling ill. This digital-first campaign is limited to Ontario, with results informing a national launch across social, digital OOH, television and print in late 2021 or early 2022.

The hero product in all four spots – honey lemon echinacea – was chosen due to feedback from consumers that, for everyday use, they prefer less-strong products with less menthol, and honey lemon happens to be the number one SKU across the country.

“Everyday Voice” also includes an influencer component, led by Liv Public Relations, that shows throat soothing properties of Ricola products by tapping into creators who regularly strain their voice. Confirmed influencers include Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia.

Ricola is also using a new tagline, “it’s good to have Ricola at the ready.”

Historically, October to March makes up between 50% to 60% of sales in the lozenge category. But April to September remains close to 40% and competitors, which includes the likes of Mondelez’s Halls, don’t usually spend money in shoulder seasons, Ummat says, offering a chance to stand out.

According to Ummat, year-to-date numbers are way down for the category, by 41% for the last 52 weeks, thanks largely to people not venturing outside as much and social distancing.

“COVID will force us to think differently,” Ummat admits. “There’s still a need for medicated drops, but maybe for a different reason – video calls maybe – but not cough-and-cold related.”

Ummat says it’s a sales test as well as a behaviour test, amplified by an extensive extensive digital and social buy, as well as OOH, elevators and during CP24 broadcasts. The campaign is running across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and, in a first for the brand, TikTok. The social buy was handled by Fuse, with in-store, OOH, TV and print by VMC Media.