Be Wary of Vulgar Marketing

Back in December of 2009, Nicorette launched a $15 million integrated marketing campaign complete with a fictitious ‘Suckometer’ around the bold statement that, Nicorette makes quitting smoking suck less. In addition, it was the GlaxoSmithKline brand’s first foray into social media.

Nicorette Makes Quitting Suck Less Campaign

As a quick backgrounder, here are a few select statements from the Nicorette Website.

There’s no way around it, quitting sucks. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do in life. That’s why quitting can be a challenge. To be successful, you need to overcome both your physical addiction to nicotine and your psychological addiction — the urge to repeat the same smoking routines every day, like smoking in the car and after meals. …Sure, quitting will always suck, but Nicorette makes quitting suck less.

Does Vulgar Marketing Work?

When the campaign launched, I thought it was a cheap, vulgar marketing effort and still do. The campaign is still running so, I wanted to see if it’s working. In short, I’m not exactly sure how the campaign is doing, but here are a few things I discovered.

There was a HCD Research/Mediacurves survey conducted in 2010 among 300 viewers of a new Nicorette gum ad and showed that nearly half of smokers (49%) were more likely to try to quit smoking after viewing the ad.  The majority of viewers (80%) felt the ad was extremely or somewhat effective, and more than one-third of smokers (34%) said that they would be more likely to use Nicorette gum to help them quit their smoking addiction.

The numbers are fine, but we all know that people don’t always do what they say they’re going to do. So, I’m not convinced of the strategy.

Does Nicotine Replacement Gum Work?

I’m not sure if the gum works, but I’d bet that they sold a ton of it. The thing is, even if you sell a ton of product, if it doesn’t work, what does that say about you and your brand long term? Without brand trust and integrity based on a positive experience what does the future hold for your brand?

This eHow article reports that…‘normally, there is only a 5 percent success rate of smokers quitting their habit for a full year (without the use of replacement products), which makes the success rate of Nicorette Gum between 7 and 8 percent. Not the best odds. …Of the top five “quit smoking methods,” not a single nicotine replacement gum made the list, including Nicorette Gum.’

Great Products Lead to Positive Word of Mouth Advertising

After 1.5 years and spending $15 million, Nicorette’s own Website only has one success story! Are you kidding me? If Nicorette Gum is such a great product, why aren’t there a ton of people in TV ads, on YouTube and Facebook raving about the product?

I’m always a bit leery of brands that spend a ton of money on marketing (and vulgar, uncivil advertising to boot) because let’s face it, if the product was so great, people would be spreading the word on their own. My advice would have been to take the $15 million and build a better product or service – one that truly works and adds value – customers will come, rave about you and spread your good word.

P.S.: Full disclosure: I’m in my late 40s, a nonsmoker and far from being a prude, however I am offended, not impressed or motivated to purchase by cheap, vulgar, uncivil and classless marketing. And, I firmly believe that if in fact Nicorette’s product is a super terrific one, they would have sold as much if not more product with raving customers who quit smoking once and for all. Net…they wouldn’t have had to ‘go there.’ Nor should you…ever!

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