Sanofi aims for that sweet smell of success with spring Nasacort campaign

Sanofi ($SNY) is hoping to spring forward with a new marketing campaign for OTC Nasacort.

The campaign aims to spur allergy sufferers into seeking relief by detailing all the smells of spring they're missing out on. To do that, it's brought on some talent: Dr. Charles Wysocki, an expert on the science of smell, and Neil Pasricha, allergy sufferer and author of "The Book of Awesome."

It's just the latest push from Sanofi's Chattem consumer health division, which has grown quite a bit since Sanofi bought in back in 2010. But these days, if the French drugmaker wants to keep up in the global consumer health ranks, it's going to have to elevate its game.

Pasricha, for one, says life wouldn't be the same without spring's "truly awesome" little moments, like the aroma of the season's first barbecue wafting over the fence or the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk. "But like a lot of people, I suffer from terrible seasonal allergies and can't smell a thing unless I take care of the symptoms with Nasacort Allergy 24HR," he said in a statement. "… So the more I manage my allergies, the more awesome things I experience."

Neil Pasricha

Wysocki makes his case for clearing the airways, too. Smell's direct link to the brain's limbic system means that for many people, fragrances can evoke feelings or bring back vivid or emotional memories. "It's a powerful sense that affects us every day," he adds--and not one allergy sufferers should have to miss out on.

Sanofi's also taking its cause to social media, encouraging consumers to tweet their favorite spring scents with the hashtag #HappySmells. Lilacs in bloom and grandma's Italian cooking are a couple of the user favorites that join freshly cut grass and bed sheets from Pasricha's list.

The pharma giant is looking for a lift during prime allergy season as Nasacort begins its second year on the OTC market. After switching over from the prescription category and hitting store shelves last February, the product generated $114 million in 2014 sales. It's a strategy that has worked for Allegra, the prescription allergy brand now available in OTC form.

But with its competitors bulking up, Sanofi will need more than that if it wants to climb the global ladder. Bayer has said it's gunning for the No. 1 position in the market, and last year it nabbed Merck's ($MRK) consumer lineup for $14.2 billion to further that goal. Currently, though, a recently formed joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Novartis ($NVS) holds the top spot, with some $10 billion in annual sales.

- read Sanofi's release

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