Valda’s solution for the 2020 social faux pas of coughing in public

Who: JAMP Pharma with Havas for creative and media.

What: A pandemic-inspired ad campaign for the Valda lozenges brand that uses humour. Yeah, actual jokes. Funny ones.

When & Where: The campaign is running on radio, social and out-of-home including transit and elevator posters—places where coughing can make people very nervous.

Why: In 2020, even the slightest, most benign cough in public feels like you’ve set off a blaring car alarm—one that might be interpreted as a death threat to those nearby.

On the one hand, that’s a harsh and unfortunate reality of the pandemic. But after eight months, Havas and JAMP decided they could make light of that situation. “The strategy was to tackle coughing head on, but turn it on its head so that all the worry and negativity were removed from the equation,” said François Leblond, marketing director of JAMP Pharma’s OTC Division, in a release.

How: The out-of-home relies on a simple but instantly meaningful headline: “In 2020, you don’t want to be coughing.” A location is added based on placement of the posters: in an elevator, on a bus, or in the metro.

The radio tells more detailed stories about people overreacting to someone with a cough, including one man being handcuffed to his bed. “Canary. Canary,” he yells. “There is no safe word for what you did, Steve,” says his wife.

“The insight was everywhere,” said Havas creative director Carle Coppens. “We do feel awkward when coughing. Our clients wanted to adopt a different tone, [so] they asked for a campaign that would bring a bit of fun.”

And we quote: “There was a great opportunity to make people laugh during a time where there really isn’t much to laugh about. We’re very confident that these new ads will attract a lot of new fans for Valda.” —Guylaine Thériault Rehel, brand manager of the OTC division, JAMP Pharma.




David Brown