HeadOn Works!

The ads work, that is. HeadOn, that homeopathic (and therefore completely ineffective) head rub for head pain isn’t effective. But it’s still selling, because advertising and propaganda often trumps evidence! Mya Frazier of AdAge reports:

Those rapid-fire “HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead” spots are arguably among the worst commercials ever from a creative standpoint. They’re annoying, repetitive, obnoxious — and effective.
Clutter buster: HeadOn ads seem amateurish and mindnumbing, but the company’s marketing chief said consumers remember them.


HeadOn is logging some heady growth rates — 234% from 2005 to 2006. And for the first half of 2007, the brand looks to be on track to double sales. HeadOn ranks No. 9 in the external-analgesics-rubs category and logged $6.5 million in sales last year, up from just $1.9 million in 2005, according to Information Resources Inc. That’s not including Wal-Mart, who is “one of our biggest customers” Mr. Charron said.

Miralus’ ActivOn, for joint pain, launched in 2006, has leapfrogged past HeadOn, topping out at $5.5 million in sales and jumping to the No. 6 spot in the $278 million external-analgesic-rubs category. Within that category, Head-On is stealing share from such brands as Icy Hot, which was up just 4.4% in 2006; Bengay, which was down 2.5% last year; and Aspercreme, down 12.6% in 2006. (The last for a long time had its own cheesy tagline, “You bet your sweet Aspercreme,” since changed to “You bet if it’s Aspercreme.)


Mr. Charron is a big believer in focus groups and takes a rather unconventional approach to this most traditional of research tools. “Our No. 1 priority is recall,” said Mr. Charron, and sounding a bit like the HeadOn spots himself, he added: “It’s all about recall. It’s all about recall.”

Instead of testing the commercials against other headache remedies or other health-care advertising, Mr. Charron has tested HeadOn spots instead against what he refers to as ad clutter. “Odds are, 99% of the time, our ad won’t be next to a headache remedy anyway but a car ad or electronics ad or food ad,” he said.


But if the HeadOn story is inspiring as a case study, remember, it’s all about the long haul. Despite the buzz and the impressive sales growth figures, Miralus isn’t in the black yet.