Skip to main content

Fisherman's Friend challenges Canadians to "suck it up"

Tongue-in-cheek campaign takes a tough love approach with cold and allergy sufferers

Fisherman’s Friend is once again challenging Canadians to “suck it up” during cold and flu season.

Last year, the lozenge brand launched a new positioning that harkened back to the product’s tough roots. Fisherman’s Friend was developed by a British pharmacist in 1865 to aid fishermen who would get sick while working in the extreme conditions of the North Atlantic.

A 30-second TV commercial, which introduced the new “suck it up” tagline, featured tough men from the past who, despite being having a cold or the flu, were still able to swordfight, bare-knuckle box and defend themselves against bears. The spot then showed a modern-day man, sick in bed, with a voiceover saying, “suck it up.” For this year’s campaign, footage from the spot was used in three 15-second ads.

“It’s a very strong brand—it’s not for everyone,” said Esmeralda Guevara, marketing manager at TFB & Associates, which distributes the brand in Canada. “The positioning is ‘tough love for what ails your throat’ because was very much for a strong personality and extreme weather.”

This year’s campaign kicked off in the summer with activations at three Tough Mudder events. Attendees could test their strength with a “strongman” carnival game, using a mallet to ring a bell on top of a tower, for the chance to win products.

The brand is also using influencing marketing, including a partnership with ET Canada host Cheryl Hickey during the Toronto International Film Festival.

In addition, a contest invited people to send a picture showing they are “tough enough” for the chance to do the official coin-toss at a Toronto Argonauts game. The grand-prize winner also received a pair of Argos suite tickets and a behind-the-scenes VIP experience.

Social media has been used to promote the various campaign elements using the hashtag #SuckitUp.

Guevara said Fisherman’s Friend is trying to reach a younger demographic with the new positioning. “We thought the best way to do that is through a physical brand interaction that becomes memorable … and also taking any content and videos that we had from those events to our social media channels.”

In January, the brand is launching radio ads and digital out-of-home advertising. There are no immediate plans for in-store marketing, but Guevara said they’re considering it for the future. “It’s kind of a step-by-step program,” she said. “You can’t go in-store unless people are aware that the brand exists.”

Advertisement - article continues below
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds