2017 Winners

DartGuy & NICORETTE® Partnership

Johnson & Johnson Inc.’s NICORETTE® Partnership with DartGuy

Gold Public Relations Agency of the Year: Edelman

The Goal

Nicorette’s target audience was not actively considering ways to quit smoking beyond willpower, nor were they engaging with the brand’s digital campaigns.

The core objective for this campaign was to educate the frustrated, dissonant smoker on nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and remind them that Nicorette was the first name to be considered at shelf when considering quitting smoking.

The Target

The target was men over 40 who smoke about one pack of cigarettes a day. They’re frustrated because past cold turkey quit attempts were unsuccessful due to intense cravings and trigger situations like grabbing a beer after work with friends.

The Insight

Recognizing influencers would have the ability to authentically educate consumers on NRTs, such as Nicorette gum, agency Edelman set out to find a unicorn of an influencer – someone credible and relevant, targeting men over 40 and willing to be publicly associated with smoking despite the stigma.

During this time period, the team discovered a needle in a haystack. Jason Maslakow, a diehard Toronto Maple Leafs superfan was driving from Waterloo, Ontario, to Washington, D.C. to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs game. He went in with his face completely painted, his beard dyed blue and a hair tattoo reading “Go Leafs Go.” He had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth while watching the game, just waiting to light up during breaks. TV cameras caught him, and social media crowned him “DartGuy.”

Maslakow, a lifelong smoker who works in an auto factory in Waterloo, went from 20 to 15,000 followers on Twitter and couldn’t walk down the street without people wanting to take a photo. Having tried – unsuccessfully – to quit smoking cold turkey a few times, Maslakow represented an opportunity to connect with the target audience in an authentic, genuine way.

The Plan

This was a quick, nimble and scrappy campaign. In a matter of days after DartGuy’s newfound fame, the agency partnered DartGuy and Nicorette into a phased campaign that included earned media, social media and event appearances to get the target to recognize quitting is a challenging journey, but anyone can start, even someone like them.

The initial social post had a positive reaction with more than 500 shares and hundreds of thousands of views and led to a larger partnership, with Maslakow committing to beginning a quit journey using Nicorette and publicly sharing his experience to inspire other Canadians.

The team did not proactively pitch any media, choosing instead to focus on creating content in brand and influencer social channels that was real, engaging and would capture the attention of sports and lifestyle media. All earned media across TV, radio, internet and print was generated organically, including the brand’s Facebook posts being read live on-air with its product claims, a level of brand mention generally unheard of in the consumer health category.

To keep a steady drumbeat of conversation after hockey season ended, the brand had DartGuy attend a Blue Jays game in a custom-made Nicorette hockey jersey and take hundreds of photos with fans, who applauded his partnership with the brand and posted them on social media.

The Results

This scrappy influencer opportunity with a budget of only $20,000 exceeded all expectations, generating 11 million earned media impressions including a positive brand mention, with media skewing males aged 30+. More than 10 million additional organic social media impressions were garnered (the original goal was 500,000 impressions), making this campaign the number one most shareable Nicorette campaign ever among males aged 18-55 and one of the most covered influencer campaigns of 2017.

Coverage from outlets such as CBC, CityNews, Sportsnet, Toronto Sun, 102.1 The Edge and Global News called the program “the best thing ever,” “brilliant” and “savvy marketing.” Media found themselves disclaiming that "we were not paid to talk about this, it's just a genius promotion." And most importantly, multiple people have committed to #QuitWithDartGuy and are sharing their stories of quitting smoking with Nicorette products.

Partner Involvement

J3 Canada conducted the relevant paid media buys on Facebook, with content and strategy provided by Edelman.