.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Branding by brainwashing

Repeat after me:

HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!
HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!
HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!

Ah, the HeadOn TV spot. Annoying? You bet—but that’s what makes it so cunning. HeadOn is a homeopathic remedy for headache pain made by Miralus Healthcare. According to
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Miralus focus-group tested a number of potential commercials for HeadOn. The winner was the spot that focused solely on repetition (see above). It’s sort of the updated version of water torture, where droplets of water are “applied” to your forehead until you go insane.

Does the stuff work? According to the same Wikipedia article, Chemical analysis has shown that the product consists almost entirely of wax. The two listed active ingredients, white bryony (a type of vine) and potassium dichromate, are diluted to .000001 PPM and 1 PPM respectively. This amount of dilution essentially leaves no trace of the active ingredients whatsoever, so the product is essentially a placebo. [That’s not all bad. An article in the September 21st
FORTUNE.COM tells of how physicians are now discovering the healing power of placebos.]

Building the HeadOn brand will make branding history. I haven’t found any research on it, but I would bet HeadOn’s unaided recall is through the roof. Best of all, their spots are super cheap to produce. Compare that to what Cingular probably spent to launch their brand. Another interesting thing, the HeadOn spots never mention what the product should be used for.

Recently, HeadOn introduced a variation in their ad. Now a live talent walks on camera and interrupts the voiceover, saying that the ad is really annoying but the product is excellent. There’s also a brand extension called ActivOn, which you can “apply directly where it hurts.” The company also makes Freedhem Hemorrhoidal Cream—Apply, well, you know where…

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