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By: TS Kelly

This story originally appeared in Drug Store News.

Over-the-counter analgesic pain reliever tablets captured over $4 billion in sales in 2017, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Good news for brands in the category? Not so fast. Data from IRI shows that private labels took the lead over name brands last year, with aggregate sales of approximately $1.21 billion. Pardon the pun—but this is undoubtedly a major headache for big name pain reliever brands.

Over-the-counter analgesic pain reliever tablets captured over $4 billion in sales in 2017, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Good news for brands in the category? Not so fast. Data from IRI shows that private labels took the lead over name brands last year, with aggregate sales of approximately $1.21 billion. Pardon the pun—but this is undoubtedly a major headache for big name pain reliever brands.

In order to fend off private labels, brands are investing in television advertising to stay top of mind when it comes to alleviating aches, pains, and migraines. The month of May was no exception. Bayer, GSK, J&J’s McNeil, and Pfizer all aired commercials for pain relievers across a myriad of networks and shows.

In total, Pfizer spent nearly $6 million to promote Advil products with three different commercials airing throughout the month.

The top ad focused on Advil Liqui-Gel. Showcasing extreme water sports and was intended to reach both genders, with buys on Lifetime, NBC Sports Network, ID, and USA Network. “American Ninja Warrior” garnered the most airings. A second version of the Advil Liqui-Gel ad, spotlighting synchronized swimmers, was aimed squarely at the fairer sex, with airings on Hallmark Channel and HGTV.

A commercial for Advil PM aired on Cooking Channel, Hallmark Channel, and USA Network—and the largest number being seen on “American Ninja Warrior.” (One can only imagine the sore muscles the contestants contend with, so the continued alignment would seem rather apt!)

McNeil’s Tylenol also stepped up with a television ad that aired on networks as diverse as TV Land, Sprout, Headline News, and CBS. A Spanish-language version aired on Telemundo, NBC Universo, and Univision.

GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Excedrin targeted the female demographic in its approach. A commercial starring exceptionally fit EMS workers aired principally on Lifetime, Discovery Family, and the Lifetime Movie Network.Bayer also hit TV screens with ads for Bayer Low-Dose Aspirin and its Aleve brand. Spend on three commercials stacked up to a total of nearly $4 million. Airings occurred on a range of channels, from NFL Network to Oxygen and ESPN2 to Fox News and CNN.

Obviously, pain relievers are for every demographic. The split between female-centric programming and rough-and-tumble sports fare makes it clear that no matter what you’re watching from the couch — OTC drug makers recognize that aches and pains are an everyday problem for every one of us.

TS Kelly is senior vice president of research for Alphonso, a TV data company that provides real-time TV campaign analytics, one-to-one TV ad retargeting, and closed-loop attribution for brands and agencies. In his role at Alphonso, Kelly deep dives into television data and insights, giving clients guidance on how to optimize their TV spend.

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