To support the launch of its Ice Mint Lozenge and encourage smokers to quit their smoking habit, Nicorette tapped NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a campaign inviting smokers to take the lozenge on a "Taste Test Drive."
Objective and Context:
Despite the warnings and negative health effects, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 34.4 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. Cigarettes are addictive by design, making it difficult to resist the intense cravings to quit smoking for good.
In a world where vapes and e-cigarettes have the potential to make smoking fashionable again, how does a brand with a 23-year heritage of helping smokers quit the habit continue to promote that agenda?
This was the first year of the campaign to launch the new Nicorette Ice Mint Lozenge, using celebrity Dale Earnhardt Jr. to help bring product awareness to interested quitters. Nicorette has launched new flavors of their existing formats as gum over the past few years, but the new coated lozenge launch was a formula and innovation that had not been seen in the category for more than 10 years. With new flavor variants, typically volume is sourced from within the portfolio among loyal format users. But with Earnhardt's influence and reach across digital and social platforms to bring a new formulation to help smokers on their quit journey, Nicorette was able to grow penetration with 50 percent of new Nicorette lozenge buyers being new to the category.
The target audience consisted of American adults (ages 25 and older) who smoke combustible cigarettes and are interested in quitting.
Smokers have said that the taste of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products make it difficult to stick with their attempt at quitting smoking. However, the new Nicorette Coated Ice Mint Lozenge (NCIML) is the first and only FDA-approved coated lozenge which helps to address this, plus the symptoms of cigarette withdrawal, while doubling the chances of quitting.
By leaning into consumer insights and introducing a new, first-of-its-kind product through an integrated campaign, Nicorette emphasized its mission to support smokers in their journey to quit. The intention was to get smokers to consider Nicorette as an effective smoking cessation tool.
Nicorette's new Coated Ice Mint Lozenge has a formula designed to deliver amazing taste and effective, long-lasting craving relief that keeps working even after the lozenge dissolves. The great taste and texture of the new lozenge, the first innovation in the category in 10 years, makes managing cravings a bit more enjoyable.
Nicorette knows that advice from former smokers who have successfully quit is the most powerful way to connect with current smokers. Combined with the insight that automobile driving is one of the top craving triggers, Nicorette launched an integrated program, featuring former smoker and NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. He invited smokers to begin their quit journey by taking the Nicorette lozenge on a Taste Test Drive.
Though best known for his NASCAR persona, Nicorette identified Earnhardt because he transcends the sport of racing, an easily recognizable personality over-indexing with the smoking population. Although he smoked for many years, like many smokers Earnhardt kept his habit a secret from the public, making this the first true unveiling of his time as a smoker, sharing his personal journey in the hopes of encouraging others to kick the habit.
Overall Campaign Execution:
The campaign had deep roots in digital media with exclusive campaign video content featured through online video placements and across social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The content series included "Dale's Story," a genuine testimonial about Earnhardt's experience smoking and ultimately quitting, and the Taste Test Drive, where Earnhardt surprises his cousin and an unsuspecting NASCAR fan, both starting their own quit journeys with Nicorette and leaning on Earnhardt as their coach. Earnhardt also posted content about the campaign and the new Nicorette product on his social channels to millions of followers, resulting in tremendous engagement across his fan base.
Earnhardt brought his personal story and the Nicorette Coated Ice Mint Lozenge to high-impact consumer, sports, lifestyle, and business media with stories appearing in Forbes, People, USA Today and on Good Morning America, among other outlets. This coverage was distributed both offline and digitally, including some custom social content specifically for Instagram stories. After a full media day, Earnhardt hosted a private media event at New York City's members-only Classic Car Club. There, media were invited to speak with Earnhardt and even race him in a custom VR racing machine while taking the lozenge for a Taste Test Drive.
The budget for this program was $2 million, which included the agency fee, out-of-pocket costs related to earned, social, creative and digital executions, and spokesperson fees and handling. The budget did not include paid media spend or shopper marketing spend.
The campaign culminated with a YouTube Masthead, featuring the Taste Test Drive with Earnhardt and his cousin. The creative asset was optimized specifically for mobile viewing, adding thematic overlay copy to drive the narrative in sound-off environments. The unit drove nearly 500 million impressions, the highest reaching Masthead to-date for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Nicorette's parent company, with more than 87 percent delivered on mobile devices. The time spent viewing the Masthead content was three times the existing GSK benchmark, demonstrating strong viewer engagement and retention.
These results helped Nicorette earn a spot on YouTube's Top 10 Ads of Q2 in 2019, in the company of such brands as Nike, Budweiser, Apple, and Geico.
All digital assets across the campaign led to a custom e-commerce solution, MikMak, which allowed users to add the product directly to the retailer cart of their choice (Amazon, Target, or Walmart) right from their mobile device in a single click. Twitter drove the highest add-to-cart rate, three times the total average for the campaign across channels, with the vast majority of Twitter impressions delivered on mobile. Facebook drove scale, accounting for 32 percent of traffic to the e-commerce interstitial, delivering more than 91 percent from mobile.
Prior to the launch of the Nicorette Taste Test Drive campaign, the popularity of e-cigarettes, sleek marketing, and a pleasurable smoking experience helped fuel the growing misconception that these cigarette alternatives are smoking cessation products. This made it more difficult to get the estimated 34.4 million of Americans who still smoke cigarettes to consider Nicorette and ultimately make the product a part of their quit journey.
With no innovation in the cessation category in 10 years, the Taste Test Drive introduced a new product: the coated ice mint lozenge, with a formula designed to deliver amazing taste and effective, long-lasting craving relief that keeps working even after the lozenge dissolves. The great taste and texture of the new lozenge makes managing cravings a bit more enjoyable, helping people stick to quitting.
The Taste Test Drive campaign catapulted Nicorette to the forefront of traditional and social media conversations, resulting in 289 placements and surpassing one billion earned media impressions in two business days, exceeding brand KPIs by 85 percent.
The Taste Test Drive installment featuring Earnhardt's cousin made YouTube's Top 10 list of all ads in Q2 2019. A YouTube Brand Lift Study on the same ad showed positive relative lift and drove top-quartile, best-in-class Ad Recall (29.1 percent lift) and Purchase Intent (17.04 percent lift). These numbers indicated that both emotional long-form and product-centric short-form content have the power to deliver across platforms and devices.
Since the launch of the Taste Test Drive, total Nicorette Lozenge consumption increased by 11.4 percent in a relatively flat category. A major drug retailer reported that more than 50 percent of new Nicorette lozenge buyers are new to the category and 13 percent of volume was incremental to the category.
The Taste Test Drive campaign generated 2.7 percent add-to-cart rate on MikMak, a social media e-commerce solution, 80 percent higher than the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry benchmark of 1.5 percent.
Overall Earnhardt creative (paid and organic media) generated an add-to-cart rate nearly four times higher than non-Earnhardt assets (7.5 percent vs 1.5 percent).