Got a presidential #debateheadache? GSK's Excedrin remedy tweets explode on Twitter

GlaxoSmithKline’s Excedrin saw opportunity in U.S. consumers' presidential election headache complaints--and it pounced. The brand took to social media the day of the event with a series of sponsored tweets offering #DebateHeadache relief and promptly sent mentions soaring.

Leading up to the third debate, the GSK Consumer Healthcare group bought a Twitter trend, created the hashtag #DebateHeadache and then launched a series of clever creative posts timed to run for 24 hours around the event. The first tweet read “The possibility of a #DebateHeadache is high. Be prepared with Excedrin” and broke early Wednesday morning. Five more executions continued to post throughout the day, during the debate and after its conclusion.

Twitter praise poured in. User posts called the effort “brilliant,” “genius” and “smart and relevant.” CNN even declared Excedrin the debate winner.

By the numbers, the Excedrin brand got 46,000 mentions on Wednesday, a 3,100% increase from the day before, according to Adweek quoting social analytics company Talkwalker. During the debate, #DebateHeadache mentions spiked 602% from the prior hour, Adweek also noted.

The idea for the election-connected Twitter sponsorship was born out of Excedrin’s larger “Moments” campaign, a multimedia effort including TV, print, digital and social launched in July, Scott Yacovino, senior brand manager for Excedrin told FiercePharma.

Excedrin agencies Weber Shandwick and PHD, along with internal Excedrin brand people, had already decided on a strategy that included looking for social media and public relation opportunities around the idea that head pain can rob people of moments in life for which they want to be present, he said. The presidential election was in their sights early, with Weber doing related surveys with consumers that ended up feeding the content of the third debate posts. One finding in the post, for instance, read “64% of Americans say avoiding headaches is impossible during a presidential election.”

Then, during the first presidential debate, the team noted a surge of organic discussion around headaches and even commentary about the need for Excedrin, especially on Twitter. So within the next few weeks, it went to work on a social media debate plan, securing the 24-hour Twitter promoted trend slot and creating the hashtag, copy and posts to tie to the third debate.

When asked if the success means more presidential election headache tweets, Yacovino said nothing specific has been planned yet for the rest of the election cycle, but it’s a possibility.

“We’ll still capitalize on moments when they come, and continue our base campaign that continues to run for Moments,” he said. “Our mission is to relieve head pain so whatever we decide to do, it needs to be relevant and make sense for the brand.”

The Excedrin success will bolster a GSK OTC unit that's up against some increasingly competitive rivals. Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and Sanofi--which recently struck a deal to swallow Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer offerings--are all working to snatch the market lead GSK seized when it last year teamed up with Novartis on a consumer JV.

And keeping Glaxo ahead in that race is a task that'll soon change hands. Emma Walmsley, the company's consumer chief, will be moving on to take over for CEO Andrew Witty when he steps down next March, and GSK recently tapped Novartis vet Brian McNamara to take her place.

- see Adweek's coverage

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