Mucinex holds $1.7 million account pitch as it launches night time brand

The Reckitt Benckiser brand wants help rolling out NightShift, an overnight cold and flu medicine.

PARSIPPANY, NJ: Cold and flu brand Mucinex is searching for a U.S. PR agency as it plans to bring a night time product to market this year.

The Reckitt Benckiser brand issued the RFP in mid-July describing a PR budget of $1.5 million to $1.7 million divided into three segments. It did not include a timeline for the search process. 

RB has dedicated $500,000 to $750,000 to launch and position a night time cold version of Mucinex called NightShift and prepare for "possible Vicks retaliation," according to RFP documents. 

A second part of the budget valued at $500,000 will go toward launching a platform to bring Mucinex’s brand purpose to life. It has also dedicated $500,000 to support the brand purpose and develop a "path to iconic" strategy, according to the RFP. 

The company asked agencies to tailor their pitches to the launch of NightShift, which RB hopes will address a Mucinex weakness in the market. While the brand leads among daytime cold and flu over-the-counter medicines, it has "five times lower market share than NyQuil in the multi-symptom night/combo segment," according to the RFP. 

The night time cold and flu market presents "a $300 million opportunity" because one-third of NyQuil users would switch brands and 43% of consumers "avoid night time medicine altogether," according to the brief. 

The over-the-counter cold and flu market is sizeable. Total revenue for cough and cold remedies will be $11.4 billion in 2019, and it could grow annually by 7%, according to Statista. Upper respiratory treatments are the single biggest over-the-counter drug category, according to the nonprofit Consumer Healthcare Protection Association. It said the category earned $8.8 billion in revenue in 2018, making it significantly larger than oral analgesics at $4.3 billion and heartburn remedies at $3.2 billion. 

RB has asked the pitching agencies to target a "younger doer" psychographic, defined as married people ages 25 to 54, who are mostly working with children at home, according to the RFP. It described this cohort as active consumers who want OTC solutions that cover a "wide range of symptoms so they can stay highly social and not miss out," RB said in the brief. "Convenience is key and they are willing to pay for it." 

RB asked participating agencies to develop deliverables including a proposed strategy with tactics, goals and a calendar; an issues-management plan to deal with competition from brands such as Vicks’ NyQuil; and "a combination of ideas at two budget levels: $500,000 and $750,000." 

The company also required pitching agencies to show in presentations how they would drive awareness of NightShift, convert NyQuil customers and prepare for NyQuil’s response to its launch. It is also planning an influencer campaign this year to support the new brand. 

RB also said in the documents that it expects the staffers who attend the pitch to work on the account.

U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser, whose brands also include disinfectant Lysol, condom brand Durex, infant formula products and cleaning brands Resolve and Woolite, reported a net revenue increase of 2% in Q2, missing analysts’ expectations. The company also cut its full-year growth target for 2019. 

RB declined to comment about the agency search or its agency relationships. DeVries has worked for the company in the past, collaborating with Mucinex on the #SuperSickMonday campaign, according to an agency spokesperson. It won a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the campaign. DeVries also worked with Mucinex to generate coverage for a survey commissioned in 2018 about how consumers deal with having a cold or the flu, according to press releases from the company. 

Planning stages: A non-controversial influencer campaign
RB has required the participating agencies to show how they would meet four key performance indicators, including growing Mucinex’s share of the night time cold and flu market from 2.5% to 7.5% in its first year and to 11.3% in the second. The brand also wants impressions and placements to grow by more than 25% over last year; expects 20% of reach to be earned; and hopes to increase mentions and favorable comments about Mucinex. 

Mucinex’s parent company wants agencies to target three categories of influencers: mid-level, with 25,001 to 100,000 followers; macros with 100,000 followers; and celebrities with at least 1 million. Influencers should display traits, from most to least important, of reach, authority and credibility, brand fit, quality and content engagement. While they don’t need to be healthcare providers, they should be credible in the space, according to search documents. The company also said it wants to avoid controversy, so influencers should be non-polarizing and not have political affiliations or be engaged in political discussions. 

RB wants the winning firm to attack three business problems: lack of awareness that Mucinex helps with symptoms other than mucus; no "point of differentiation in night time"; and the strength of competitor Vicks and its "heritage in both the daytime and night time cold and flu categories." RB considers NyQuil to be Mucinex’s primary competitor, but it also competes with Theraflu and Alka-Seltzer Plus, according to the search documents. 

No events are planned for this or next year according to the RFP, which asked firms to pitch against a celebrity influencer campaign launching the first week of October; a TV campaign debuting on October 7; and a digital campaign starting one week after that.

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