Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tastes like used mouthwash? Hook me up!



"If you are inquiring about your cough mixture tasting like expired milk, trash-bag leakage, a post-pedicure foot bath, a state fair porta-potty, decomposing meat fat, monkey sweat, used denture soak, New Jersey, or hippie-festival runoff, please hang up. Your cough will be gone shortly." Radio spot for Buckley's Cough Syrup

When I first heard about the Buckley's advertising campaign a few weeks ago, I laughed out loud. It's not often a company will openly compare the taste of their product to perspiration, spring break hot tub water and used mouthwash. Talk about a courageous approach. This is the straight-up truth, folks, no apologies given. And I love it!

In Canada, Buckley's is already as familiar to the sniffling, hacking masses as Robitussin is here. But as they expand into the U.S. market, they are quickly garnering local attention thanks to their catchy slogan, "It tastes awful. And it works."

In addition to the radio spots, short TV ads feature blindfolded customers conducting tastes tests between Buckley's and a public restroom puddle, trash bag leakage and pig tongue scrapings, to name a few.

This method certainly seems to be working, at least in terms of the buzz factor. After seeing the ads, a friend - who was battling a severe cough and cold - bought a bottle of the medicine the other day. I can't even begin to explain the look of absolute disgust on her face when she guzzled a dose of it down. She claims it was the worst stuff she'd ever tasted. I did get a whiff and let me tell ya, it smells heinous. Think battery acid. I guess it's not too shocking seeing as how the product's ingredients include camphor, menthol and pine needle oil.

Despite the vile taste, though, my friend is hanging onto the bottle because she was feeling worlds better by the next day.

Interestingly enough, Buckley's is now running a contest on MySpace asking viewers to submit pictures - or videos - that capture their expression upon tasting the syrup. The winner gets a trip to Alaska. If only we'd had a camera, my friend could have easily competed for the grand prize!

Seriously, though, I applaude Buckley's for their campaign. They could have easily gone the predictable route and pretended the taste wasn't an issue or loaded it down with sugar to appease customers. Instead, they turned the gross factor into a humorous - and apparently effective - campaign hook.

Although I like tasty treats, I prefer to be in good health. So next time I wind up with a sore threat, hacking cough or runny nose, I know what I'll be purchasing. After all, 'tis the cold season.

For giggles, here are a few more Buckley slogans from years past, along with a YouTube clip featuring one of the faux taste tests.

Made with oil of pine needles. What did you expect it to taste like?
People swear by it. And at it.
Feared by more people than ever before.
Your cough won't know what hit it, neither will you.
Our largest bottle is 200 ml. Anything larger would be cruel.
Not new. Not improved.
How bad does it taste? That depends. How bad is your cough?
I have recurring nightmares in which someone gives me a taste of my own medicine.
Since 1919, we've been leaving Canadians with a bad taste in their mouths.


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