MLB All-Star Justin Verlander joins pitch for GSK allergy med Flonase

The baseball and allergy seasons are both in full swing. Houston Astros World Series winning pitcher Justin Verlander knows a lot about both, so GlaxoSmithKline recruited the lifetime allergy sufferer—and Major League Baseball All-Star—for its new seasonal Flonase campaign.

GSK wanted to spotlight families spending time outdoors together, starting an online video of Verlander with his father, Richard. The two reminisce about the ways Richard fostered and supported his son’s love of baseball.

And, of course, Justin talks about his allergy problems.

In the video, Justin says, “If I wake up and I’m congested, I’m not really focused on the job that I should be focused on … I kept trying pills and found myself still really congested and I felt like I was always playing catch-up with my allergies." Until, that is, he started using Flonase nasal spray.

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GSK said it’s tying the Verlander story to a typical American baseball family, the Dodges, who spend a lot of time outdoors and suffer from allergies. That effort focuses on online and social media.

The campaign will run across partner channels including MLB, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and The Weather Channel. The work will also appear in-store through select retailer programs.

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The new campaign leans on the Flonase theme that began when the allergy treatment went from prescription to OTC in 2015, which encouraged users to “be greater than their allergies.” Flonase is also running TV ads concurrently for its adult and children’s OTC products, both of which continue its message about the drug's six allergy substance blockers and “six is better than one” tagline.

"This spring, we’re extending that platform to baseball via partnerships with Justin Verlander and Major League Baseball, as the start of baseball season also marks the start of the spring allergy season. As a professional baseball player and allergy sufferer, Justin embodies what it means to overcome the season’s worst allergy symptoms," Jennifer Nadelson, senior brand manager of Flonase, said in an email interview. "We’ve been pleased with the positive reaction the campaign has received thus far. ... Justin’s supportive fans have been highly interactive."

GSK Consumer Healthcare does not break out Flonase sales, but reported an estimated $620 million (440 million pounds) total sales in its wellness category for 2017. That was down 6% year over year with the company noting in its filings that it faced "continued competitive pressures in the U.S. allergy sector."