Advil spotlights performers’ post-pandemic plans

The pain relief brand plays an optimistic note about the COVID-19 vaccine and the future of live performance.

When development began on a campaign for popular pain relief brand Advil, its parent company, GSK Consumer Healthcare, wanted to be sensitive about context.

“The context Canadians are experiencing brands in today – especially everyday brands like Advil, which they turn to without even thinking about it – has changed so much since a year and a half ago, pre-pandemic, with everything they’ve gone through,” explains Jeff Leeming, senior brand manager for Advil with GSK. “We wanted to take the opportunity to evolve our messaging while keeping it aligned to the brand’s purpose. But how do we do that in a more relatable way to today’s experience?”

Advil is a brand that aims to “allow Canadians to reclaim life’s possibilities,” he says, and celebrates “Canadians who really want to live their life.” But what did life’s possibilities even look like as communities were only beginning to come out of lockdown?

That was the question Advil aimed to answer with its “#AfterMyShot Sessions” campaign, and it found the answer by looking at the hopes of various artists as lockdowns began to lift and the prospect of a return to live performances arose.

“Our tone as a brand is optimistic, which put us in an interesting, challenging spot the last few years when there weren’t a lot of reasons to be optimistic – everything was in rough shape, there was lockdown after lockdown and you couldn’t even go to a restaurant,” says Leeming. “We jumped at the opportunity to develop this campaign because we were finally in a position where the tonality and the heart of Advil could resonate in an authentic way.”

“#AfterMyShot Sessions” is built around a collection of videos that showcase performances and interviews with five Canadian entertainers, including musicians The Strumbellas, Donovan Woods, and Tome; drag queen Miss Moco and comedian Richardson Zephir.

In each of the segments, the performers discuss their lives during the pandemic when they were unable to perform publicly, as well as their vaccine experiences and what they plan to do as lockdowns lift and communities slowly begin to reopen.

“We had this idea of featuring Canadian performers – people whose entire livelihoods had been turned upside down,” says Leeming. “Even beyond the vaccine rollout, concerts are still just ramping up. So artists were people we thought would be really great to partner with and share their perspective.”

Advil and agency partner Edelman developed the campaign over several months, but “really had to approach it with sensitivity given that the lifting of lockdowns was very hard to predict,” he says. “We weren’t 100% sure where we’d be on the journey when we were ready to press ‘go’ on the campaign.”

But now, that time has come – and the brand finds itself “sitting here in a time where this message is really relevant” as performers are getting back to the stage and in front of live audiences.

The campaign will live within the “digital space,” says Leeming, supported with some out-of-home creative designed to drive audiences to the microsite. It will build outward from the brand’s existing mix of mass-reach TV campaigns and product-centric marketing in order to “resonate with Canadians in a bit of a different way.”

Publicis Media’s Platform GSK team collaborated with Edelman and GSK on the campaign.