Calling in sick…

full of flu?

full of flu?

Occasionally (whether clients or agencies choose to admit it), part of the brief  is ‘get my brand / product in the papers. Extend the campaign however you can, get journalists writing about us, get us on the news… Anything,  just make something magical happen that takes the campaign beyond what we can actually afford…’.

Often, this can transform a modest campaign budget into something that becomes not just tomorrow’s water-cooler moment, but rumbles on for days, weeks if you are really, really lucky. Charities often deploy this tactic to maximum effect, anyone remember the baby shooting up, or with a cockroach crawling out of it’s mouth? A killer combination (well done BBH / NSPCC).

The latest storm in a tea-cup, is Benilyn’s new campaign, encouraging (shock horror), people who are unwell with cold / flu type symptoms to call in sick. Business leaders are up in arms, complaining about sickness costing the economy some £13 billion a year (I wonder how much poor management costs the economy), and the Daily Mail brigade have yet another reason to give an unapproving sniff to the biggest threat to their well-being since the last biggest threat to their well-being..

Yet, the agency that created the ad (and no doubt stage managed the timely release of certain snippets to the press), claim that many managers would rather ill people stay at home, get well, and not martyr into work.

When they soldier on, they are generally markedly less productive than normal, and run the risk infecting those around them. (For those of us in London, an hour home on the underground should always see to that irrespective of who has what bug in the office).

The campaign line, ‘Take a Benilyn day’ didn’t cause the majority of the furore however. That came from the very simple, engaging website (, which offers ideas on what to do on your bed ridden sick day, and (cue Daily Mail shock), how to make the all important call to the boss. Sadly, the head under the duvet technique is not recommended, or even cited. Have a look at the site. It’s worth the 5 minute investment, if nothing else to chuckle at those that have a ‘formal boss’. Poor dears…

All in all, this showcases an exercise in a well briefed agency (that understands its client, their product, their limits, the consumer all combined with a killer insight and a keen team of people who understand how to stage manage the campaign to the wider media in order to make that small budget go that bit further.

One would presume a promotion for the marketing manager is in the offing, the relationship is further embedded with the agency, and that all parties understood EXACTLY what they were doing, risks and all, as these projects are prone to failure, or backfire.

Kudos to you all, but I’ll still be sticking with lemsip…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And will not be in work next time he has a stinking cold…

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About igmorrison

Modern day marketing comms man. If you want to know more about me, visit: find me on twitter @igmorrison or just leave me a comment.

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