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Is Alka Seltzer in Touch with Hangover Market? Do UK Consumers Still Reach for Alka Seltzer as a Hangover Cure, or Is One of Its Rivals a More Likely Choice? Jennifer Hiscock Asks If the Brand Has Lost Its 'Plink-Plink-Fizz'. (Brand Health Check)

Article excerpt

Ever had that sinking feeling when you wake up after a big night and remember all the embarrassing things you did? Ever sworn never to let another drop of alcohol pass your lips?

Relax. You're not alone. Figures from AC Nielsen show that UK consumers spent no less then [pounds sterling] 1.9bn on alcohol in shops in the run-up to Christmas 2000.

And if you feel as bad as the rest of them this January, you might be in need of someAlka XS, launched in 1997, or its sub-brand XS Go, launched late last year.

XS Go -- a painkiller and pick-me-up remedy,'with a hit of caffeine', -- has departed from its trademark effervescent format. XS Go comes in tablet form in a bid to capture a market that doesn't have time to wait for the fizz.

It is riding high on the biggest-ever pre-Christmas adspend for Alka Seltzer. The [pound sterling] 1.4m budget is split between TV, radio and print.

The XS Go ads are pitched at a young audience that now has a wider choice of hangover cures, such as Berocca, Resolve and energy drinks.

Radio ads feature a woman enthusing about her health regime, explaining that she gets up at 6.3Oam after nine hours' sleep, goes power walking and eats muesli. She is interrupted by a man who urges people to' go out, have a laugh, be alright', which forms the strapline of this, and the print campaign.

Alka Seltzer's traditional marketing strategy has been to support its brands over the Christmas period alone, but it is now also "looking to de-sea sonalise the brand".

Marketing found the only two people in Britain who weren't in bed nursing their New Year hangover to comment on whether XS Go is enough to make Alka Seltzer the first thing we reach for next New Year. Former Heineken global brand director and managing director of English Wines Frazer Thompson knows a thing or two about hangovers, while Andy Wakefield is a creative director at Publicis and works on brands such as Anadin and Centrum.

VITAL STATISTICS

Alka Seltzer's share of the over-indulgence/effervescent market

             1996   1997  1998   1999  2000  2001 (*)

Original      36%    32%   29%  28.6%   28%     27.8%
XS            n/a   2.7%    8%    10%   11%       125
Total share   36%  35.25   37%  38.6%   39%     39.8%

Source: AC Nielsen

(*)MAT to October 2001

RELATED ARTICLE: DIAGNOSIS

My first recollection of Alka Seltzer advertising is the loveable cartoon character Speedy. Via my black-and white television set he would putour icky' tummies to rights with his magical fizzing elixir.

I next came across the brand when I joined Leo Burnett as an art director in the late 70s. …