Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline wants people to know that it “sucks” to quit smoking, but there’s a way to make it “suck less.”
The maker of Nicorette, an over-the-counter nicotine-infused gum that helps some cigarette smokers wean themselves off nicotine, is launching a $15 million campaign that will break on prime-time TV networks ABC, CBS ( CBS – news – people ) and NBC this Monday. The ad blitz, created by Omnicom ad agency TBWAChiatDay, will feature four 30-second spots with the tagline, “Quitting sucks. Nicorette Makes It Suck Less,” that will air until April. Print ads that look like an open letter to cigarette lovers (saying, “Dear Smokers, 2010 is going to suck”) will run in magazines such as ESPN, Time and People. The company will spend $15 million between now and the middle of 2010, then another $15 million in the second half of the year.
Nicorette’s campaign is an effort to boost business in 2010. It’s coming out at the turn of a new year, when smokers make giving up cigarettes a New Year’s resolution. “It’s a point in time when millions of people are looking for help and we’d like to be there for them,” says Michael Roe, marketing director of U.S. Smoking Control at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. Of the 46 million adult smokers in the U.S., 70% say they’d like to quit, but less than 5% actually do, he says.
The ad blitz also comes at a time when another company is moving in on GlaxoSmithKline’s turf. Tobacco giant Reynolds American ( RAI – news – people ) announced last month plans to buy Niconovum, a Swedish maker of smoking-cessation products. Niconovum’s nicotine-replacement wares, Zonnic pouch and Zonnic gum, aren’t currently available in the U.S., but they will be once the sale is finalized. Their arrival will create more competition for brands Nicorette and Nicoderm, GSK’s nicotine patch product. Global sales of nicotine replacements for last year were an estimated $900 million, of which GSK dominated, with a 55% market share, according to research company Nielsen.
The theme of the campaign, which intends to offer smokers empathy, is expected to continue in what will be a five-year broadcast blast to increase consumer awareness for Nicorette, which is sold in boxes that retail for about $45 for 110 pieces of the gum. The company is focusing on the chewing gum over its patch product Nicoderm because it believes the gum is more accessible for first-time quitters, says Roe. Both products make quitting suck less, he says.
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