Gaviscon shows heartburn’s emotional toll

Who: Gaviscon, with Fuse Create for creative, Soft Citizen for production (The Perlorian Brothers directing) School for editing, and Pirate for audio, with Alter Ego, Fort York and UM Canada for media.

What: “The Power Of And,” a bilingual campaign for the new Gaviscon Advanced product.

When & Where: The campaign debuted Oct. 18 and runs through Jan. 16. The media buy includes 30- and 15-second TV spots, as well as 15-second cutdowns running on social.

Why: Gaviscon is perceived as a product that caters primarily to older Canadians, but like so many brands these days, it’s also trying to appeal to the next generation of consumers—who might be experiencing heartburn brought on by factors such as pregnancy and stress.

The timing seems apt, since the past year-and-a-half has given rise to a phenomenon known as “pandemic stomach”—which afflicts multiple generations and which medical experts have ascribed to stress and/or “dietary indiscretions,” something younger people are experiencing as much as older consumers.

How: Focusing on a product’s functional benefits is a tried-and-true approach when it comes to over-the-counter advertising, but this campaign is built around finding a “more emotional way in,” said Steve Miller, vice-president, executive creative director with Fuse Create.

The creative approach leans into the word “and” in the brand’s long-standing tagline “Gaviscon and it’s gone,” by presenting it as the product that removes the constraints of “or” and replaces them with the possibilities afforded by “and,” said Miller. “When you think about the word ‘or,’ it’s having to make a choice between one or the other… When you don’t have heartburn, you don’t have to make those compromises.”

The spot focuses on a man who’s always forced to compromise on the things he loves—such as spicy wing and five-alarm chili—because he doesn’t want to suffer from the heartburn that results. He’s glum, but things change for the better when he begins using Gaviscon Advanced, which allows him to literally have his cake and eat it too. “We wanted the audience to feel for him, and I think he was able to pull it off quite well,” said Miller.

The Perlorian Brothers effect: The highly regarded directing team—which has cultivated a reputation for commercials that are decidedly eccentric—was instrumental in shaping the spot’s direction, said Miller.

“This is a perfect case of what you look for a director to bring,” he said. The script was conceived with a focus on the foods causing the man so much misery, but the directors’ suggestion was to present it as a man struggling with the consequences of foregoing his favourite foods.

“They saw it as a portrait of a man who’s forced to make decisions, and what that would do to him,” said Miller. “As they took us through their treatment, the camera was focused on the hero rather than the food. We loved that approach, and it pushed that notion of emotion versus function.

“That is what you look for in a director—you want them to surprise you, add value, and take what you’ve done and lift it to a place that’s even better.

And we quote:“OTC does often have a very traditional approach, and so for the client to buy into the emotional side of Gaviscon was great of them to take a little bit of a leap. There’s some assurance that it will be well-received, but I applaud our client for coming along on the journey with us.” —Steve Miller, vice-president, executive creative director, Fuse Create

Disclosure: A Fuse Create executive is a financial supporter of The Message. Financial supporters have no influence or input on editorial decisions.

Chris Powell