The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, August 23, 2004  

Items in the News, or Not
August 23, 2004

Are People Chewing These Things?
The McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals division of Johnson & Johnson has introduced a new version of Tylenol, this one mint-flavored and marketed as Tylenol Cool Caps. Pull quote from “A New Way to Spell Pain Relief: M-I-N-T-Y F-R-E-S-H,” by Eric Dash, the New York Times:

Borrowing marketing strategies out of the playbooks of chewing gum, beer and soft drink manufacturers, McNeil packaged the Tylenol samples to show the mint medicine package bursting out like a pack of Wrigley’s Big Red, and last November it hired a new advertising agency, Deutsch in New York, to redesign its campaigns. It even retained Faith Popcorn, the trend-spotting marketing consultant. And, in what must be a first for the brand marketed as the one hospitals trust most, McNeil has hired dozens of “Tylenol Cool Caps Girls” to wear revealing outfits while they distribute samples in hot spots like Times Square and Miami Beach.

(I didn’t know anyone put their faith in Popcorn anymore.)

Presumably the Cool Caps Girls warn those accepting samples of Tylenol Cool Caps that the pain reliever is not recommended for everyone (people with liver problems, for example, should not take Tylenol) and should not be taken during or after the consumption of alcohol, but, hey, why let that get in the way of cheesy marketing campaign.

One has to wonder, though, about Tylenol users who can actually taste the product: “Consumers have told us, ‘This tastes different, that it’s a different experience for me, and yeah, it makes the pills easier to take,’” said Kathy Fallon, McNeil Consumer’s director of communications. “But this is certainly not about making medicines fun, because medicines are serious business.”

No, certainly not. And those Cool Caps Girls cavorting around Times Square and Miami Beach? Serious business.

[Note: Additional items may be posted to “PP&T” after initial publication but only on the day of publication, excluding post-publication addenda. Such items, when posted, are designated by an asterisk.]

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