FOMO (or fear of missing out) is a very modern affliction. Making it onto the hallowed list of Oxford Dictionaries in 2013 (along with"‘twerk" and "selfie"), it is very much an example of a 21st century #champagneproblem, symptomatic of the age of social media, and also of fast-paced disposable-income-fuelled urban life perhaps.
Specifically, it speaks to the compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience or other satisfying event. It’s often aroused by posts online and can result in worry that others are doing more interesting things than you. FOMO has been a popular subject of the media for a while, but it recently gained attention for something different entirely – as the star of a rather perceptive brand advertising campaign.
GSK’s Day & Night Nurse tapped into FOMO for its recent comic book strip inspired campaign that aims to cast its product as the antidote for unwanted seasonal illness that threatens to scupper sufferers’ plans. Cast against the usual tableau of spluttering cold sufferers, it’s a clever move and one that sets the brand completely apart.
Just as the comic strips depict, the brand takes things one step further with its implied meaning. Along with the man who amusingly fears that by not attending a gig, his friends “will think [he’s] gone mainstream,” Day & Night Nurse implicitly joins in with the catastrophising, suggesting that, without it, missing out is unavoidable.
Originally launched in the run up to Christmas ‘13, when party season is at its height, it’s a campaign with longevity. Not only does flu season run from December to March each year, but FOMO is a universal idea that is set to stick around for longer.
In a low involvement category like Cold & Flu, it is powerful ideas like this that drive a big impact – not only it is immediately identifiable visually, but people can also identify with it. It drives relevance and an element of relatability to a brand that must compete with many others, particularly during these cold, sniffly months.
The campaign is tongue-in-cheek and not at all serious – the visuals take humorous aim at the wild thoughts that will flit through the minds of those who find themselves ill at the most inopportune of moments. However, tongue-in-cheek as it may be, it’s hugely powerful.
Rationally, everyone sees FOMO for what it is. But try telling that to the girl who’s just bought a new dress for that date and finds herself bed ridden with the dreaded common cold.
Laura Tarbox is a Consultant, Brand Strategy, at Interbrand London.