It was literally a pain-in-the-neck marketing challenge. According to the Philippine Rheumatology Association, more than 2.6 million adult Filipinos suffer from arthritis and that number is projected to rise as the average life span increases.
Skelan was a new entry in the over-the-counter arthritis relief category. Skelan was not only entering an already crowded category, but its challenge was compounded by the fact that many of its chief competitors, including Flanax, Arthricin and Arthro were heavy spenders in mainstream media. Skelan's brand positioning, ˜Ayos na ang buto-buto" (translated as: My joints are alright! / Everything is alright!), was designed to convey a positive attitude to potential customers.
The challenge was to find a non-traditional delivery method for the brand message while still remaining relevant to the 45 and older crowd.
Ninety percent of the Filipino population is Catholic. The older they get, the more passionate they become about church activities. Skelan's primary target, arthritis sufferers aged 45 and older, often gathered at neighbourhood churches after Sunday mass to participate in after-church activities.
Insight revealed that this group also establishes its brand preferences through trial and experience. The strategy was to position Skelan as an enabler of the "can-do" attitude promised by its marketing slogan, and enable arthritis pain sufferers to experience the brand's benefits. This strategy would deliver on the Filipino love of novelty songs while incorporating activities that were both exciting and beneficial to arthritis sufferers.
Churches were deemed the perfect environment for communicating Skelan's brand benefits to a receptive and enthusiastic audience, but advertising at a place of worship required extreme sensitivity. Skelan worked with Catholic Media Network, an arm of the Catholic archdiocese, as part of their mission of to promote healthy lifestyles and provide care and support to the health of the community.
Once these ethical and regulatory hurdles were overcome, Skelan launched a novelty song on Philippine radio named after the brand positioning "Ayos na ang buto-buto". The infectious song quickly topped the charts and Skelan developed after-mass dance and exercise classes at hundreds of churches throughout the country.
The dance moves required considerable joint movement, which would ordinarily be unthinkable for people suffering from arthritis pain. However, the events helped underscore just how effective Skelan could be at making such movements pain-free. To deepen the brand experience, Skelan sample packets were distributed on-site, while participants were also provided with takeaway instructional CDs providing an overview of the "dancercises".
By considering the deeper relevance of their campaign on the lives of consumers, Skelan dramatically outperformed campaign objectives by securing a 17% market share. During the product pre-launch period, sales decreased significantly at drugstores, but during the campaign sales increased 215%. More than 22 million churchgoers were exposed to the brand.