Gaviscon & the power of global brand properties

Guest post from David Nichols, Managing Partner, Global
Even if you don't suffer from heartburn you will probably know the Gaviscon Firemen. These CGI characters are putting out the fire of heartburn in multiple countries around the world and in doing so have helped Gaviscon to become a $130m brand across Europe, Middle East, Africa and increasingly Latin America.
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The Firemen started out as an advertising execution but Reckitt-Benckiser have built them into a distinctive global brand property used across the mix. The power of having a simple visual property that communicates the benefit in a distinctive and engaging way cannot be under-estimated.  Why should every global brand strive to develop their own?

1. A picture speaks a thousand words
  • When going global, go visual.  Stop endless time & resources going into finding the perfect translation of your finely crafted english slogan.  At best they usually come out sounding  a little awkward, at worst incomprehensible.  Firemen put out fires.  It doesn't matter what language it is in.
2. Helps you be Distinctive in the mainstream
  • When aiming for the heart of a large market, like heartburn, you have to communicate the core benefits.  In this case speed and efficacy.  But rather than just adding 'Fast & Effective' as your tagline/benefit claim, a unique visual allows you to be distinctive yet bang on the core of the mart where most people are.
3. Creates Memory structure
  • This is something we bang on about a lot in this blog: brand memory structure.  By communicating this simple unique symbol for the brand across the years and different executions, people have built up a mental shorthand – firemen = Gaviscon's fast effective relief.  That's all people need to know as they cruise the aisles of their pharmacy/grocery store looking for heartburn relief.
4. Enables you to 'Think global, act local'
  • Great principle to have on the desk in the global CMO's office but dang hard to do.  If you have a single distinctive visual brand property that communicates the core benefit then each market can do a local voiceover, tag on a local campaign/talent front and back and you can be both globally consistent AND locally relevant.  Powerful stuff.
Global brand properties that are distinctive, ownable and relevant are hard to develop, but in our view, worth the investment.  Ask a Fireman.