Breathe Right SleepWise

Matching Message to Medium (SILVER)

Client Credits: GSK
Chief Marketing Officer: James Masterson
Sr. Brand Manager: Kevin Mcrae

Agency Credits: Grey Canada
Chief Creative Officer: Patrick Scissons
Art Director: Todd Lawson
Writer: James Ansley
Director of Technology: John Breton
Agency Producer: Lisa Smith
VP GAD: Patty Moher
Production: The Eggplant Collective
Director: Adam Damelin
Engineer: Nathan Handy
Engineer: Matt Gauthier
Media Agency: PHD
Associate Account Director: Stephany Sousa
Account Manager: Sam Rowe
PR Agency: Argyle PR


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):April 27 - June 21, 2015
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: April 27, 2015
Base Period as a Benchmark: April 27 - June 21, 2015
Geographic Area: Alberta, Canada
Budget for this effort: $200,000 - $500,000

Why should this case win in the category (ies) you have entered?
Breathe Right Nasal Strips are an adhesive strip that affixes to your nose, improving airflow through your nostrils. Previously marketed as a sports aid and nasal congestion reliever, one of its most persuasive product benefits is how it helps eliminate snoring.

Penetration had plateaued and the brand was beholden to global broadcast campaigns focused on nighttime nasal congestion as the barrier to a good night’s sleep. This TV-centric, one-way communications approach was not driving the kind of trial required to deliver sales growth. Instead, we recommended the allocation of a “test and learn” budget to try a different initiative geared at driving relevancy and trial.

We created the Breathe Right SleepWise App - a mobile, bedside sleep monitor iOS application that recorded snoring patterns pre and post Breathe Right strip usage to prove to nasal congestion sufferers that snoring was impeding their (and their bed mate’s) sleep and how just one Breathe Right strip could improve it. All additional media support flowed from data this one medium provided and became our campaign message.

a) Describe the Client’s business, competition and relevant history:

Breathe Right has a loyal user base who purchase it frequently. Unfortunately, the product’s relevancy is not well understood by potential new users as it’s relatively unsexy, and consumers are skeptical on how a small nose adhesive that affixes to the outside of your nose can actually improve their nighttime breathing struggles.

With penetration in decline, sales had plateaued in the last few years, and the brand started to see current users steering away from nasal strips towards newer category entrants like nasal preps. Consumers could now choose from a competitive list including tried-and-true medicated sprays (e.g. Dristan, Otrivin) and newer non-medicated rinse options (e.g. Neti Pot, or saline sprays such as Hydrasense) which were gaining in popularity as drug-free. The flaw with competitive nasal remedies and other medications is that they cannot treat the most negative outcome of night time nasal congestion:  snoring.

b) Describe the Client’s Business Issues/Opportunities to be addressed by the campaign:

This campaign needed to address brand relevancy in order to drive trial.  Research showed that when consumers tried a Breathe Right strip, even for just one night, they were often converts. However, recent efforts at driving trial had been in the form of TV tags to the globally provided campaign elements.  In Breathe Right’s early years, this approach proved beneficial, however, consumers’ changing media habits paired with misunderstood relevancy showed that requests for strips were in serious decline and brand growth declining.

c) Resulting Business Objectives: Include how these will be measured:
Our resulting business objectives were:
•Drive 65% trial of Breathe Right nasal amongst new and lapsed nasal congestion sufferers
•Demonstrate that a regional campaign can deliver positive sales and share growth vs. declining national sales volume.

a) What new learnings/insights did you uncover?

With Breathe Right’s historical equity in snoring it was a natural place to dig deeper.  We quickly uncovered some misplaced optimism.  After years of focusing on a higher order benefit of “better next days” resultant from a good night’s sleep, a misappropriated target belief weaved its way into the global strategy: that snorers actually acknowledged they snored and were trying everything they could to alleviate this unfortunate side effect. The truth of this sentiment was proved false through further exploration. 

b) What was your Big Idea?

Snoring robs sleep starved bed mates of a good night’s sleep but 42% of all snoring Canadians deny they have the affliction. Breathe Right must unequivocally prove that those in denial have a problem, give their partners help opening the discussion and put a solution in their hands.

c) How did your Communication strategy evolve?

Ethnographic research with snorers and their hand-raising partners (“snore victims”) showed the biggest purchase barrier was actually ‘snorer denial’.  The vast majority of snorers didn’t believe or admit they snore, and further, were unaware of the impact it had on their bed mate. In fact, most snorers went out of their way to deny that they snored at all.   Further cultural investigation revealed that snoring was the #1 leading medical cause of divorce.  Poor sleep leads to cranky bed mates and cranky partners leads to relationship strain.  So while we knew congested sleepers felt the ill-effects of their own disrupted sleep, we identified a new opportunity to speak to the affected bed partner that was largely being ignored in the equation.

We also learned that when snorers actually hear the volume, length, and veracity of their snores, and understand how it’s really impacting their sleep, the more likely they are to take action for their health, and the sanity of their partners.  The opportunity lay in providing proof that a single Breathe Right strip could improve nasal airflow such that it could reduce or eliminate snoring and offer a better sleep for all.

d) How did you anticipate the communication would achieve the Business Objectives?

By creating the SleepWise App, Breathe Right provides product utility that serves up tangible proof to eliminate the purchase barrier and incite trial.  This digital tool will become the medium that delivers useful and eye-opening data to fuel additional targeted messaging in other media.

Section IV — THE WORK
a) How, where and when did you execute it?

The Breathe Right SleepWise app was designed to enlighten a snorer, to build empathy and support for their bedmate (the snoring “victim”), and finally give the bed mate real, tangible proof to their snore-denying partner. 

Launched in 2015 in Western Canada, we recruited beta testers to be the first to try out the SleepWise application. Users could upload personal data, record the quality of their sleep and discover if their snore decibels were louder than a chainsaw, or a pack of wild hyenas.  Data captured would identify sleep interruptions, peaks snores and a “zzz rating”.   After collecting snore data, users opted-in for a free trial pack of Breathe Right strips so that they could repeat the record of their sleep, this time while wearing a Breathe Right Nasal Strip.  It was this piece of product utility, a medium in and of itself, and it’s data that became the message that fuelled additional content in other media choices such as digital banners, SMS messaging and radio.

To drive awareness of the iOS-based app, we began a campaign to incite consumers to download the tool to try it out for themselves. First using select snoring data captured from the app’s initial beta test, we created radio ads that “called out” snore deniers once and for all.  As the campaign progressed, localized versions were created featuring snore deniers from the test market vicinity.  From there we embedded the identity and unique snore sounds of our local market snorers in more radio, banner ads, and direct SMS advertising.  

Radio ads ran during morning and evening drive time speaking directly to consumers who downloaded and used the app, with banner ads on favourited websites at key surfing periods, and SMS texts pushed directly to the user’s phone.  App users were able to determine which medium was most appropriate for the snorers in their life (or their own), and it was direct marketed through media channels never used by the brand before. 

Additional digital pre-roll rounded out the media selection that showcased a couple struggling with snorer denial and encouraged consumers to visit the website upload the app to end the debate once and for all.  All of these new elements accompanied the globally created television that was a mandated support component.

c) Media Plan Summary

  • English & French TV (Global Adapt) “Mouthbreathers” (National, Including Alberta)
  • English Online Pre-roll (Alberta only)
  • Mobile Display ads (Alberta only)
  • Radio (Alberta only)
  • Digital Banner ads (Alberta only)

a) How did the work impact attitudes and behaviour?

SleepWise initially rolled out in a Western Canada test to ensure the efficacy of the app, its adoption, and which elements of the app and digital ecosystem could be most efficiently and effectively scaled up for a national launch.

The SleepWise App activation was successful in delivering impressive incremental volume over and above the National results during the same activation period. Over this time frame, retail dollar volume, unit volume, retail dollar share and unit share in Alberta all increased, outperforming the National average by a minimum of 6% across all measures.  For reference, brand growth in Alberta one year prior (April-June 2014) was -10%.

Over the course of the campaign, an impressive 90% of consumers opted-in for free trial of the product once downloaded.

Traffic to also increased significantly in key Western Canadian markets vs. the rest of Canada when compared to the 8 wks leading up to the campaign:













Increase in BRP vs. Prior 8 wks




PR results included a rewarding audience engagement of 1.3 million in just the province of Alberta, with top-tier Edmonton and Calgary broadcast outlets including CTV Morning Live and Breakfast Television sharing segments about the app.  As well, lively ‘snoring and marriage’ conversations emerged in radio programming on such stations as 660 News, AM 630 and 107.7 The River.

Digital banners delivered a 30X higher click-thru rate than the Canadian average particularly for those that featured snorers who saw their name/snore displayed, performing in the top 1% of all digital ads running in Canada during same time period.

Of those who were served and saw the digital ads (everyone else other than the snorer featured), there was a 9X higher CTR than the national average.

b) What Business Results did the work achieve for the client?

To get a true sense of the results of this program, we directly measured the program in Western Canada test markets vs. whole of Canada. The data tells the story of how the west was won:

  • Retail dollar volume +7% vs. Rest of Canada
  • Retail Dollar share +0.3 pts. vs. rest of Canada
  • Retail Unit volume +6% vs. Rest of Canada
  • Retail unit share +0.2 pts. vs. Rest of Canada

c) Other Pertinent Results

Aside from the in-market success, the campaign has been awarded significant industry accolade having won a Radio Bronze Pencil in The One Show, a Gold MIA for Media Innovation, shortlisted in Radio at Cannes, A Silver and Gold CMA for Direct Engagement and Experiential & Innovative Media, and a Marketing Award in Digital and Mobile.

Ultimately, this kind of brand engagement had not been seen in some time for the brand.  By embracing a new piece of product utility and the data it offered, GSK Canada, as an organization, had been enlightened to the opportunity to create locally relevant messaging that could augment and improve global campaign elements.  

d) What was the campaign’s Return on Investment?

Based on confidential client data, the return on investment for the program is the potential to deliver over $500,000 of incremental revenue as National Program.

Section VI — Proof of Campaign Effectiveness
a) Illustrate the direct cause and effect between the campaign and the results

We directly measured the program in Western Canada test markets vs. whole of Canada where the program was not running. The data clearly shows a lift in the area where the campaign ran vs. rest of Canada.

  • Retail dollar volume +7% vs. Rest of Canada
  • Retail Dollar share +0.3 pts. vs. rest of Canada
  • Retail Unit volume +6% vs. Rest of Canada
  • Retail unit share +0.2 pts. vs. Rest of Canada

b) Prove the results were not driven by other factors
Campaign spend vs. history and competition:

Production budgets increased 25% to develop the app, but media spend in Western Region test market was flat year over year.

Pre-existing Brand momentum:

The Breathe Right brand was actually in decline in both share and sales volume for the first 6 months of the year, in all regions across the nation, both English and French Canada.


There was no unusual pricing activity to report.

Changes in Distribution/Availability:

No additional gains or losses in distribution or availability to report.

Unusual Promotional Activity:


Any other factors: