‘Suck it up,’ says Fisherman’s Friend in flu campaign

The lozenge maker sticks to its tough roots in TV spots

Rebecca Harris November 16, 2016

Fisherman’s Friend is once again challenging Canadians to “suck it up” during cold and flu season.

Last year, the lozenge brand launched a new positioning that harkened back to the product’s tough roots. Fisherman’s Friend was developed by a British pharmacist in 1865 to aid fishermen who would get sick while working in the extreme conditions of the North Atlantic.

A 30-second TV commercial, which introduced the new “suck it up” tagline, featured tough men from the past who, despite being having a cold or the flu, were still able to swordfight, bare-knuckle box and defend themselves against bears. The spot then showed a modern-day man, sick in bed, with a voiceover saying, “suck it up.” For this year’s campaign, footage from the spot was used in three 15-second ads.

“It’s a very strong brand—it’s not for everyone,” said Esmeralda Guevara, marketing manager at TFB & Associates, which distributes the brand in Canada. “The positioning is ‘tough love for what ails your throat’ because [the product] was very much for a strong personality and extreme weather.”

This year’s campaign kicked off in the summer with activations at three Tough Mudder events. Attendees could test their strength with a “strongman” carnival game, using a mallet to ring a bell on top of a tower, for the chance to win products.

The brand is also using influencing marketing, including a partnership with ET Canada host Cheryl Hickey during the Toronto International Film Festival.

In addition, a contest invited people to send a picture showing they are “tough enough” for the chance to do the official coin-toss at a Toronto Argonauts game. The grand-prize winner also received a pair of Argos suite tickets and a behind-the-scenes VIP experience.

Social media has been used to promote the various campaign elements using the hashtag #SuckitUp.

Guevara said Fisherman’s Friend is trying to reach a younger demographic with the new positioning. “We thought the best way to do that is through a physical brand interaction that becomes memorable [such as Tough Mudder]… and also taking any content and videos that we had from those events to our social media channels.”

In January, the brand is launching radio ads and digital out-of-home advertising. There are no immediate plans for in-store marketing, but Guevara said they’re considering it for the future. “It’s kind of a step-by-step program,” she said. “You can’t go in-store unless people are aware that the brand exists.”

This article originally appeared on CanadianGrocer.com.