Nurofen Express to the rescue

Campaign: Nurofen Express 'Fast Lane Frenzy' Client: Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare PR teams: Virgo and Reckitt Benckiser in-house Timescale: June-November 2007 Budget: £50,000-£75,000


Reckitt Benckiser (RB) launched Nurofen Express in response to research that found speed and effectiveness were the most important factors people took into consideration when choosing a painkiller.

As well as promoting the first non-prescription drug for the brand since 1999, RB wanted to challenge media apathy on the subject of pain, consumer confusion when faced with a multitude of brands, and the low level of pharmacies recommending branded products.

The PR campaign focused on the premise 'twice as fast' and needed to complement other marketing activities directed at both loyal and new Nurofen customers.


- To launch Nurofen Express with the single-minded proposition 'twice as fast'

- To engage an indifferent media in the subject of pain and take the story beyond the health page

- To bring the 'twice as fast' message to life, allowing target consumers to experience it in a tangible way.

Strategy and plan

The campaign combined targeting media to encourage interest in the subject of pain and creating experiences targeting consumers with the 'twice as fast' message.

Loyal Nurofen consumers were identified as busy professionals with a 'work hard play hard' approach and the company wanted to engage new customers who were unsure which painkiller would be best for them.

A one-week UK roadshow called 'The Fast Lane Frenzy' was created to get the 'twice as fast' message to busy commuters across the country's major cities.

The UK's entire fleet of rickshaws, re-branded as Nurofen Express 'quickshaws' were chartered to provide transport to commuters using major stations in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hull, and branded 'speed demons' were used to drive consumers to the quickshaws.

The activity was filmed using a hand-held camera. Short clips of the quickshaws, were uploaded on to social media sites such as YouTube to spark debate and comment.

Adverts for the product were also put on pavements for commuters who 'kept their heads down'.

Radio stations were offered an 'express chef' to cook a quick hot breakfast on site to go with the twice as fast theme, and sporting, parenting, men and women's interest and business media were targeted with a novel 'Fast Lane' survey detailing modern living and the need for speed.

To engage journalists and encourage belief in the product, media-friendly GP Dr Rob Hicks and fitness expert Justin Buckthorp were both approached and secured to help communicate the need to choose a painkiller that works twice as fast.

Trade press were briefed on the launch ahead of consumers, and given a pack including a profile of the product aimed at pharmacists and their assistants.

Measurement and evaluation

The Fast Lane Frenzy campaign achieved more than 70 pieces of coverage, comprising 45 consumer pieces and 26 in the pharmacy and grocery trade media.

The express chefs were covered on radio breakfast shows including Dr Fox on Magic FM and Ricky & Melvin on Kiss FM. A total of 1.25 million people were directly reached with the quickshaw experience.

There were 16,722 visitors to the Nurofen Express website during the launch week.


The launch took the Nurofen brand to its highest ever share, with a sales uplift of nearly 30 per cent compared with its pre-launch average.

Nurofen Express sales predicted for 12 months were achieved in just seven, and the launch won Best Healthcare Launch in the Reckitt Benckiser Gold Awards.


How do you make Nurofen sexy? It is a challenge PROs come across daily, dealing with products or services your client thinks are groundbreaking, but you know will require something special. In the circumstances Virgo has done a pretty impressive job.

It obviously took time to understand the product, its audiences and how to reach them. It should be praised for linking the theme so directly to initial market research. It is the basis on which every successful campaign should be built, but initial research can be overlooked. The theme 'twice as fast' has been admirably woven into every part of the campaign.

While the idea of using rickshaws to target city-dwellers is not unique, it proved effective at reaching morning commuters. Virgo's 360-degree comms strategy took a literal approach with the pavement ads - the team obviously thought about its audience.

I think the Virgo team missed a trick by not creating online buzz around the product. Traditional media were used to drive traffic online, but the 'twice as fast' theme lends itself well to something as simple as an online game. Posting videos on YouTube is fine, but, unless you have an exciting USP, it can become merely a tick in the digital box.

But you cannot argue with results like these. This is an excellent result for a product that could easily have been lost in a sea of similar launches. Virgo has shown that if you are thorough and do your groundwork, you will get results.

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