GlaxoSmithKline and Wunderman Thompson Health  

Abreva’s Director’s Mix Campaign

Abreva, the only nonprescription cold sore medicine approved by the FDA to shorten healing time, was losing exclusivity on its active ingredient. GSK expected it would quickly face generic competitors after its patent expired, eroding share and targeting a price-conscious consumer.

To bring new people into the category and ward off this threat, it launched a sophisticated targeting campaign with highly individualized messaging. Abreva wanted to introduce itself to a younger audience dealing with cold sores for the first time. 

These early sufferers are much younger, about 15 years old, compared to 42, the age of a seasoned cold sore sufferer. Working with partners at Google, Abreva learned this new target loves entertainment, fashion and beauty. She is tech-savvy and a social maven. 

That informed the new “With Abreva, you decide how you show up” ads, designed for six-second online formats, tailoring creative based on different audience segments.

The campaign ran on YouTube, the target’s favorite platform. And it allows the use of Director’s Mix, which leverages machine learning to dynamically optimize video to an individual. When an “early sufferer” casually searched on YouTube, they found an ad programmatically assembled just for her or him. Their affinity profile determined the video concept and call to action; their real-time search intent drove the opening headline. Copy was heavily informed by search trends and deliberately used words in the search- related vernacular.

This combination of research insights and secondary data allowed it to crack personal messaging at a level few campaigns achieve, delivering 119 different ads against 43 unique audiences. Brand interest surpassed expectations, achieving a 428% interest lift.