GSK, Publicis and System1 drive commercial success for Voltaren with highly emotive ‘Grandpa’ execution

Let System1's Senior Research Consultant, Megan Li, guide you through the Voltaren success story.

London, 18th October 2021: GSK, in partnership with Publicis, and System1, recently developed and launched a highly effective creative execution across multiple markets for their global pain brand Voltaren.

Beginning with an immersive ethnography project conducted to better understand the true cost of body pain, GSK developed a global enduring creative idea – More than Movement. This uncovered the deep human truth – that through actions and movement we can connect on a more meaningful level than words alone, and when this is not possible, we can pull back and lose touch with those around us.

We have studies and insights gathered over the years that tell us the consequences of body pain have a far-reaching impact, beyond the physical, affecting quality of life and emotional well-being of sufferers all around the world. By effectively managing body pain it allows those suffering to get back to connecting with others again. We realized the importance of this to sufferers, so working with Publicis we wanted to ensure we stand for something people care about.” says James Masterson, VP & Global Brand Lead Voltaren GSK.

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Click below to discover more about how the partnership between GSK, Publicis and System1 produced a campaign that made consumers feel connected to the brand.

From this platform GSK and Publicis distilled multiple creative routes for potential development which were worked up into animatics to allow for early-stage testing. One of which, ‘Grandpa’, had all the hallmarks of the type of emotionally engaging creative System1 has been championing given its established link to both long and short-term marketing effectiveness.

For the past two years we at System1 have been calling for a right brain reset in advertising creativity to arrest the decline of effectiveness within the industry. The consumer health category, given its subject matter, tends to focus on more rational left brain features in its advertising creative, such as talking to camera or a noticeable voiceover with fast-moving or split scenes. We were thrilled to see in this early animatic developed by GSK and Publicis a true piece of emotionally charged brand building creative. It included many of the hallmarks of great right brain focussed creative; a story unfolding, characters acting, knowing glances and in the final edit a very hummable tune! Not only is this a much more enjoyable type of ad to watch as a human, but we also know it is this type of creative which drives effectiveness in both the long and short-term.” explains Ben Walton, CCO at System1.

This creative route demonstrated early potential via System1’s core predictive effectiveness metrics; The Star Rating of 2, predicted a modest long-term future market share gain of up to 0.5%, The Spike Rating of 1.11, predicted good short-term sales activation of up to 11% above the category average, and the execution received an exceptional Brand Fluency score of 94.

‘Grandpa’ demonstrated early potential

The animatic elicited a positive emotional response in almost half of all respondents, which System1 has proven is critical to long-term brand building potential. The creative also landed strong associations with the core benefits of the brand; providing ‘relief’ to pain, a ‘solution’ to the problem, giving the opportunity to ‘start again’ and connect with others through the joy of movement. This demonstrated how the creative idea was providing an effective platform for the brand.

'Grandpa' connected emotionally with respondents and provided a strong creative platform for the brand

The campaign brings to life how body pain leads to lack of movement, which for many people results in becoming socially isolated and distant from friends and loved ones. Voltaren restores pain-free movement allowing people to move, connect with each other, and feel true joy. We believe this will allow the brand to become more relevant to people in their daily lives.says Davide Boscacci, Publicis Executive Creative Director.

Grandpa delivers in Germany and beyond

By delving into the detail and breaking the ad’s performance down second-by-second, System1 identified areas where changes would deliver stronger results. This included introducing more emotion to the middle of the execution and changing the soundtrack. GSK and Publicis took this guidance on as they developed the creative execution through to the final film.

The detailed FaceTrace® emotional response allowed us to understand key moments in the story where emotions were dipping and peaking, as a result, allowing us to truly unlock the potential of delivering a stronger emotional hook. This helped us enhance the storytelling and bring the tension in the strategy to lifeadds Bela Ziemann, Publicis Chief Strategy Officer.

Upon re-testing at the final film stage again in Germany, all the scores had increased: the Star Rating had doubled to a strong 4, the Spike Rating was upgraded to Strong, and the Brand Fluency strengthened further, remaining at Exceptional. Following a successful launch in Germany, the creative was rolled out to the UK, US and Italy, where the final film achieved a top 5 Star Rating, predicting a market share gain of up to 3% over the next 12 months for the Voltaren brand.

Tamara Rogers, Global Chief Marketing Officer at GSK Consumer Healthcare, says “The whole premise of the Voltaren brand is about the joy of movement, of connecting with others. These emotions are the foundation of the ‘Grandpa’ execution. We chose to work with System1 to help us verify and perfect the film because their approach is rooted in emotion to evaluate an ad’s ability to drive long-term market share growth and short-term sales potential. While we value and appreciate the importance of quantitative data in testing ads, at GSK we know that real people buy our brands, and it is through emotions like caring, happiness, and enjoyment that we can truly connect with them. The results are testament that this approach delivers.”

Following the launch of Grandpa in Germany, GSK saw immediate business impact with Voltaren sales increasing in the 3 months post initial airing. On the back of this commercial success Grandpa has now been rolled out into multiple further markets.

Interested in learning more about why GSK’s Grandpa Ad is a market success?

Request your copy of the System1 Test Your Ad GSK Voltaren Grandpa case study below:

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