Bonningtons Flu Tracker

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Bonnington’s Irish Moss is a loved family remedy and has been soothing sore throats since the 1870’s. While there is residual awareness amongst older consumers, it had been under attack by big spending competitors and was experiencing YOY declines of 20% for the past 2 years.

Bonnington’s was a true David Vs Goliath scenario – Bohemia needed to have a significant impact on sales with a budget of $100k (which equates to 0.42% SOV of the $24million ‘Cold and Flu’ category). The agency had to ensure that their targeting was completely focused on the audience who needed it the most.

Darwin once said, “It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent that will survive, but those who can best manage change”. In a category where the flu season drastically varies by year and by market, never was this statement more pertinent.

Despite this, historical advertising spend analysis confirmed that the ‘Cold and Flu’ category is cyclical in terms of investment. Each year from April to August Bohemia's competitors roll out the same multi-million dollar TV campaigns with the same strategy. Spend big in winter and hope that the Aussie flu season hits while on air.

Inspired by Darwin, Bohemia set out to harness the market's biggest challenge; a changing flu season, and use it to their advantage by becoming ‘the most adaptive cold and flu brand in market’ by ensuring that their investment was targeting sick Australians.


To be the most adaptive cold and flu brand Bonnington’s needed to accurately monitor and predict a changing flu season by region to ensure that Bohemia's marketing was delivered when most Australians were receptive to the message. 

The agency scoured the internet and found 5 incredibly rich, yet disparate data sets. These were:

• 8 years of Google data
• 1 season of brand search
• Historical weather information and a daily feed from BOM
• Real time Facebook and twitter chatter
• 10 years of GP claims from the Medical Benefits Schedule (Dr appointments) 

Bohemia first ingested all of the historical data and through correlation, regression and multi-linear-regression (MLR) analysis, they were able to understand the relationship of behavioural indicators (search and social data) with actual behaviour (GP appointments), and finally the impact of environmental factors (weather data).

With an understanding on the historical relationship of these data sets, Bohemia then set out to build a predictive flu tracker to guide Bonnington’s spend, making it the most adaptive cold and flu brand.

By analysing weather and flu trends, the agency noticed a significant correlation between weather conditions and flu behaviour. Combining real-time social and search data sets with 10 day weather forecasts, Bohemia succeeded in accurately predicting the peak of the flu season by each market in Australia but most importantly, the most optimal time for Bonnington’s to advertise. 

Bohemia were ready and waiting for the flu season to hit.


With the Flu tracker built and ready, Bohemia connected their trade desk with a trigger point to ensure all allocated digital dollars were invested as soon as influenza began to peak by region.

With programmatic buying from their trade desk they were able to target not only those who were most likely to be sick (via retargeting from search) but also those that were at risk of becoming sick (by understanding flu peaks).

However, Bohemia didn’t stop there -  understanding that those sick were most likely to be bored at home, the agency built in an engagement mechanic to positively influence sales results via a promotional offer.

Through daypart targeting focused on light entertainment relief, Bohemia challenged those most likely to be at home to discover the secret of Bonnington’s Irish moss. Via programmed learning with an incentive to purchase the product to win a cash prize, the agency was able to actively engage a bored at home audience.

To help build a product that would allow for more discrete and personal communication in the future, Bohemia have now included a ‘social scanner’ that looks for relevant keywords across twitter and highlights each individual user's twitter handle, tweet and location with the objective that in 2015 Bonnington’s will respond to each sick Australian in a way that no other big cold or flu medicine has ever attempted.


Bonnington’s Flu Tracker proved invaluable, successfully predicting the peak influenza period in 2014 ensuring that 100% of Bonnington’s small budget was invested when Aussies needed help the most and when demand for flu remedies was at its highest.

By ensuring that the budget was invested at the optimal time, the agency was able to significantly improve Bonnington’s marketing share of voice and relative cut through with an 86% increase for each $1 invested, moving from $1 vs $240 competitive dollars to $1 vs $33 competitive dollars of spend.

The improved SOV helped drive a positive business return;

• Across the key flu Season Bonnington’s Irish Moss experienced a 23% increase in sales vs the same period last year.
• With this increase Bohemia has begun the new financial year with sales 149% greater than the first quarter in 2013/2014. Sales are at levels not experienced by the brand for 3 years when the brand was near its peak.

In addition Bonnington’s has retained all pharmacy and supermarket listings in an increasingly pressured and spend driven market.

By targeting sick Australians with a combination of real-time data sets they succeeded in being the most adaptive cough and cold brand.

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Aspen Pharmacare
May - September 2014
Bohemia Group
Media Channel:
Direct Marketing,Digital,Online
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