To every thing there is a season. And this is the season for sore throats. A new batch of commercials for Betadine Throat Gargle comes right to that point, encouraging sufferers to gargle with Betadine when they first feel that familiar ache.
“Research has shown that 85% of sore throats are viral and are early signs of infections like cold and flu,” says Sheryl Willison, the Canadian head of Avrio Health/Purdue Pharma, which manufactures Betadine.
“There are many options on the market that treat the symptoms that come with being sick, but few that actually treat the root cause of the issue.” Betadine, in her view, is one of the few.
The product still hasn’t entered the U.S. market -- but appears poised to do so.
Among the new ads is one showing a lottery ping-pong-ball picker in her big televised moment, about to pick the last number, when she gets that tickle. As an anxious nation watches, she quickly gargles with Betadine.
There’s also one in which a barber pauses mid-cut for a Betadine gargle moment.
In a third, a woman is just about to start her conference call when she treats her charges to a gargle through the speaker box instead.
“The moment you feel it, use Betadine,” says the voiceover-of-god narrator, “to help treat infections that can cause a sore throat.”
The brand claims its gargle product kills “99.9% of viruses and bacteria.”
The ads are a light touch in a market that often shows sore throat sufferers grimacing in low-grade agony.
“When we looked at the competition, we saw that so many sore throat/cold/flu brands were all saying the same things in their communication,” explains Zak Mrouth, chief creative officer and founder of Zulu Alpha Kio, the agency that created the spots. “We knew these situations would be unexpected and completely unconventional for the category.”
Mostly, people associate Betadine with its antiseptic qualities. It has a long history, starting with World War I and the use of iodine to reduce the incidence of gangrene. Povidone-iodine, followed, first marketed in 1955 as a non-stingy alternative to iodine. The brand version, called Betadine, began in 1963.
Six years later, according to its website, “Betadine antiseptic was chosen by NASA to wipe down Apollo 11 when it landed to sterilize the spacecraft against any space bacteria that might have hitched a ride.” (Of course, that Betadine is at a much higher concentration than the gargle and spray.)