Great advertising moments: Alka Seltzer

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One of the world’s iconic brands, Alka Seltzer, celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2006. Throughout its history they ‘ve had a high strike rate when it comes to producing memorable, effective advertising. My first memories of the brand’s advertising was it famous ‘Boat’ commercial.

In the US, they created a mascot called Speedy who featured in their advertising in the ’50s and ’60s. The advertising promoted the use of a single tablet at a time. In a stroke of marketing genius, the brand’s fortunes changed when they encouraged the use of two tablets at a time. Portable foil packs that held two were created; the advertising was a simple demonstration of the two tablets immersing in water. The baseline, an all-time classic, ”Plop, plop, fizz, fizz – oh what a relief it is’ made the brand famous.

The brand has the distinction of making some of its advertising lines part of popular culture. This ’70s TVC had one such: ‘That’s a spicy meatball!’:

My favourite one is this (talk about branding!):

The other popular line from the Alka Seltzer ads was: ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!’. It began in the ’70s and was voted one of Newsweek magazine’s 10 most memorable lines of the decade. During the ’80s the brand took a hiatus from mass media advertising. Controversy over the use of Aspirin in the product followed. Recently, they introduced an aspirin-free formula for heartburn. In a classic case of tribute (and fantastic casting) they brought back the ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!’ line with a remake of the old ad. This time around, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts from ‘Everybody loves Raymond’ were used.

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In the print media, some great work has been happening of late on the brand, specially from the Far East.

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Only a handful of clients consisitently encourage (and get) great advertising. FedEx, Pepsi, Apple, The Economist come to mind.

To do that for decades is remarkable – Alka Seltzer would definitely rank among them.

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