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It Tastes Like What???

By Jimmy Vee

buckley.jpgEvery night, Christy and I put Autumn to bed at around 8pm. We give her a bath, bring her into her room, put her radio on the Delilah station (which is often times nauseating) and tuck her in. On several occasions during this time I heard commercials for Buckley’s Cough Medicine. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you haven’t heard the spots. Why? Because you would remember them. I remember the first time I heard one. I was only half listening as I was in the middle of playing with Autumn, but it stopped me in my tracks. I said to myself, “What did they say? Did I hear that right?” It wasn’t till I heard the commercial several times that I really started to believe what I was hearing (the power of frequency and repetition). Buckley’s is doing a great job at exploiting their uniqueness to garner attention and Gravitate people to them. What makes Buckley’s unique? The fact that the cough medicine tastes really bad. No, I am talkin’ really bad, according to them and their commercials. Their commercials highlight the fact that the cough medicine tastes unbelievably bad; even comparing it to a trash heap, sweaty gym socks and New Jersey. But at the same time saying, “and it works.” The tag line is, “It tastes awful and it works.” The word “and” in the tagline is a very interesting and powerful choice of words. They could have very easily used the word “but” (It tastes awful but it works). Instead, they chose to use “and” . The word “but” negates everything that comes before it in favor of what comes after. The word “and” on the other hand, adds what comes after to the statement that precedes it. The bottom line here is that Buckley’s didn’t want to down-play the fact that the product tastes awful. They wanted to play it up. They took what many would call the biggest DISADVANTAGE of the product and made it a positive. They embraced what was unique about the product and exploited it for their competitive advantage and benefit. The commercials play up the fact that it tastes so awful that your curiosity is peaked and you almost have to buy it just to try it—even if you don’t have a cough. That’s powerful. To me, it has this old world, nostalgic feel to it. It makes you say to yourself, “if it tastes this bad, it must work really well.” Kinda of like Castor Oil in Mary Poppins or a true snake oil remedy. Buckley’s does such a good job with positioning their product, they make you think that if a cough medicine tastes good, it can’t work. Effectively weakening the credibility of every other cough medicine on the market that tries to make their remedy taste good. They took a look at what every other cough medicine was doing (trying to make it taste better) and did the opposite. Always a great strategy in my book. Now here’s how they even took it a step further and really hit the ball out of the park. They built their web site on a platform and then held a contest where they encouraged people to use the product and record themselves making an ugly face because of the taste. They then put all the photos and videos on this page for everyone to see. Of course this furthers the positioning about it tasting really bad and you know how everyone likes to talk about and share the thing that tastes absolutely terrible. “Ewww…this is awful, you should try it.” The whole thing becomes viral and spreads and because it’s built on a platform the spread-a-bility is built right in. They harnessed the power of the social media trend and the benefits of web 2.0 and they did it in a way that was fun and non-threatening to the online social culture which is wary of overt selling. This is a powerful lesson of positioning, uniqueness, using online and offline media mixes and tapping into the power of the ever growing social media trend. There is a lot to learned from Buckley’s example. You can see their website at