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PR positions Panadol Rapid Handipak as the must have accessory for every girl's handbag!



PR Company: 

Pusle Communications

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2008 C9 - 21



Executive Summary: 

In July 2007, Panadol - a hero brand in the portfolio of the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline - launched the new look Panadol Rapid Handipak in Australia.  This product was a slim, easy-to-carry packaging innovation of 10 capsules, developed to meet consumer demand for on-the-go pain relief.

Despite being one of Australia’s oldest and most trusted brands, Panadol lacked relevance for a younger, 25 – 35 year old female audience.  Panadol’s main competitor Nurofen was the preferred choice for these busy,  on-the-go, women who felt that Nurofen was a more effective pain relief option to fit in with their lifestyles.  They perceived Panadol as being a brand which was somewhat out of touch with the modern-day Australian woman.

The new packaging took the essence of Panadol and added a contemporary edge to appeal to stylish, metro-based, females between the ages of 20 – 35 years old.  Marketing communications then took on the task of demonstrating the relevance of the Panadol Rapid Handipak, and firmly establishing it in the hearts and minds of this “cynical” target audience.

To demonstrate this relevance to the target audience, the PR team based its campaign on a single key insight – young women with active, busy lives don’t want pain to get in their way; most carry pain relief with them in their handbags wherever they go.

The idea which stemmed from this was then to position Panadol Rapid Handipak as the must have accessory for every woman’s handbag.

This positioning was developed by working with key partners in the fashion and style arena, to borrow their “style” credentials and associate these with Panadol.  This then gave Panadol “permission” to speak to the fashion and style editors at key women’s lifestyle titles, which are avidly read by, and trusted source of information for our target audience.  Putting Panadol on the pages of these publications, and placing the brand on a relevant and engaging context, was key in being able to influence our target audience.

Situation Analysis: 

The product perception among the target market was - “Panadol is not strong enough for all my pains. I use Nurofen because I know it works and the modern packaging signifies the latest technology.” 

The aim of the innovative new Panadol Rapid Handipak packaging, therefore, was to encourage Nurofen consumers to increase the occasions they chose to use Panadol over Nurofen. The new packaging also served to differentiate consumer perceptions of the Panadol brand by adding style and modernity to a brand which already signified effective and trustworthy pain relief.

While the new packaging was a stylish brand revamp, a story regarding a change of packaging for Panadol, would not be enough to gain traction in the fickle fashion and style pages read by the target audience.  The key was to create a richer story around the Panadol Rapid Handipak which would truly engage its publics.

PR campaign had to make pain relief, specifically the Panadol Rapid Handipak, not just newsworthy and relevant, but also a “cool and stylish” product which would be worthy of featuring in top-tier women’s lifestyle publications.  The team engaged in the difficult task of taking ‘pain relief’ out of its typical medicinal space into the style sphere, while at all times being sensitive to potential nervousness amongst media that featuring pain relief was like “promoting drugs”.


Prior to kick starting the campaign, the team conducted a comprehensive media audit to gain a better understanding of journalist’s current perceptions of the Panadol brand. In total, twenty top tier journalists were contacted from a range of high-circulating women’s lifestyle and entertainment titles including CLEO, Marie Claire and New Weekly.

The media audit questions were simple, straight-forward and constructed in a manner that allowed the PR team to measure the impact of the campaign once activity was completed.

The results of the audit were as expected and most of the journalist’s feedback was relatively similar. For example –

  • 100% felt Panadol was not a stylish pain relief option
  • 50% thought that Panadol was old-fashioned

As to whether the journalists felt the Panadol brand was relevant to their readers, the general response was that while pain relief was of importance to their ‘always on the go’ female audience, they were not sure whether the product was ‘stylish’ enough to fit in their pages.

Pulse then commissioned extensive lifestyle research into the contents of Australian women’s handbags which found that pain relief was the most common item found in a women’s handbag – even more so than make-up.

Target Policies: 

The key audience was females aged 20-35 who currently preferred to use competitive product, Nurofen.  Market research conducted by Panadol revealed these women were incredibly busy and never took time out.  They revealed that having a busy schedule was a badge of honour and while work was important, spending time with friends and family was even more so.  When they got a chance to do this, they didn’t let anything get in the way, especially a headache.  This audience perceived Panadol as being a brand which was somewhat out of touch with the modern-day Australian woman.  Consequently, their first choice of pain relief was, Nurofen, which was perceived as more ‘relevant’ for this audience.

Communication Strategy: 

The research findings lead to the campaign being launched to coincide with Australia’s largest fashion event, the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW).  This would be followed by a widespread PR campaign, seamlessly leading into mass ATL activity.

The three-tiered PR strategy involved –

  • Partnering with leading Australian handbag designers, Estilo, to “borrow” fashion credentials from an established, aspirational handbag brand.  Estilo was commissioned to create a Panadol Rapid Handipak bespoke bag (featuring a special pocket for the product – given pain relief is one of the most common items why not create a designated spot for it in the handbag?).  The bag was displayed at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW)
  • To create a wider story around the Panadol Rapid Handipak, research into the contents of Australian women’s handbags was commissioned, which revealed pain relief to be their most essential item. Stylish, “it” girl, and author of the book, “How to Tell a Woman by her Handbag”, Kathryn Eisman, was brought on board to act as a handbag analyst and provide commentary around what a woman’s handbag and bring the story to life
  • A Publishing House Tour visited journalists from key women’s magazines, eg CLEO and Madison, aimed at telling a more targeted research story and really demonstrating to them that the Panadol Rapid Handipak story was relevant to their pages.

These steps were put in place to really work hard at taking pain relief out of its typical medicinal space and firmly position it within the style sphere. This style positioning was also important to ensure we minimised nervousness amongst media that featuring pain relief was like ”promoting drugs”.


Influencer tactic: “Best in Class”

To place Panadol Rapid Handipak firmly in the sights and bags of Australia’s most stylish individuals, Panadol partnered with Australian handbag design house, Estilo, to create a bespoke Panadol Rapid Handipak handbag.  The bag was a contemporary design, featuring a special “Panadol pocket” on the inside to ensure pain relief is kept within easy reach.

As a result of the partnership, Panadol Rapid Handipak gained presence at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW) – the bespoke bag was displayed at the Estilo stand with branding acknowledging the partnership on the bag and the product displayed inside. 

A fortnight prior to the kick off of RAFW, the new Panadol Rapid Handipak was distributed to key fashion journalists who would be in attendance. The product was sent in a chic small gift bag along with an eye-catching flyer which directed journalists to the Estilo stand to catch a glimpse of the bespoke handbag. It also featured topline information on the new Panadol Rapid Handipak – the perfect accessory to help get them through the hectic week.  The aim was simple – to get journalists and key opinion leaders to put the Panadol Rapid Handipak straight into their handbags, so they would have it with them while in attendance at various RAFW events.  Not only did this activity effectively cement that the product had relevant insight into the style world, it also helped build the brand’s fashionable synergy with RAFW.

Additionally, from the partnership with Estilo Panadol also secured approximately 30 bespoke bags which were seeded with key fashion writers (with the product inside) to encourage inclusion in their ‘What’s Hot’ product pages. This partnership was also successfully leveraged from an above the line perspective, with Estilo designers Mac and Mardee used in a series of advertorials which featured the new and stylish bespoke bag – from design elements to why the new Panadol Rapid Handipak was the ‘essential item for every girl’s handbag’.

Launch media tactics: “What’s in your bag?”

In conjunction with research partner, Galaxy, the team coordinated extensive lifestyle research into the contents of Australian women’s handbags and what this says about their personality. Interestingly, the research uncovered pain relief was the most commonly found item in women’s handbags – more common than makeup and music players, so decided to delve deeper into the national handbag psyche. 

To bring the research results to life, Kathryn Eisman – well-known Australian television personality and author of the book, How To Tell A Woman By Her Handbag, was enlisted as the ‘handbag expert’. Working in conjunction with Kathryn and leveraging the extensive research she conducted in-field, the team developed four different ‘handbag personalities’ which Australian women could belong to and identify with. From expressive to creative, prepared and minimal, newsworthy descriptors of each personality type were developed, which were featured extensively in the resulting coverage and effectively enabled both journalists and readers alike to personalise and identify with the news story.

Additionally, positioning the spokesperson, Kathryn Eisman, as a third party ‘expert’, strengthened the validity of the research and facilitated lengthier talk back radio interviews rather than short news grabs. Additionally, prior to the media blitz, Kathryn was extensively briefed on the campaign strategy and key messages she had to communicate in any interview, specifically that the new Panadol Rapid Handipak was a convenient and stylish addition to any girl’s handbag.

Ongoing media tactics: “It’s in the bag”

To tell a wider story and extend the momentum around the product, the team coordinated a publishing house tour – to visit journalists in their work place and take the story to them in a way which would help them engage with the content and bring it to life.  The tour targeted all the major publishing houses including:

  • News Limited, eg. mX, Sunday Telegraph
  • ACP, eg. CLEO, Cosmopolitan, Shop til you Drop
  • EMAP, eg. Mother & Baby, New Woman
  • Pacific Magazines, eg. Marie Claire, New Idea

Aimed to reduce barriers to trial and provide an intimate setting for relationship-building, the sessions were hosted by our handbag expert, Kathryn Eisman, who brought the research findings to life and generated interest and excitement.  Kathryn performed on-the-spot handbag “readings” for journalists in attendance, revealing their various personality types based on the contents, style and colour of the handbags.  The sessions were also supported by a Panadol Rapid Handipak spokesperson, who discussed why the new Handipak design was needed and why the product was a perfect fit for their magazines. Delivering the story in this fun and lively way brought about a high level of interaction and made it easy for journalists to re-tell to their readers.

Following the session, all media were provided with a sample of the Panadol Rapid Handipak product along with a press kit which featured full media background & imagery for reproduction on ‘what’s hot’ & shopping pages. Thorough follow up of attending and non-attending media also took place after the PHT to secure further editorial opportunities and collect product feedback from journalists.


As a result of the PR campaign, 71 pieces of branded coverage were achieved. Our media monitoring showed we had created more than 27 million opportunities to see, across all media—TV, print, radio and online. In a country with a population of only 20 million people—the target audience was repeatedly exposed to the message.


Additionally, following the completion of the campaign the team conducted another media audit with the journalists initially involved in the program, which revealed that now: 75% felt Panadol was a stylish pain relief option and 100% no longer saw it as being old-fashioned.


The coverage generated a total advertising value of $AU75,078. The Public Relations Institute of Australia calculates the increased value of editorial credibility by multiplying the advertising space value by three. This means that for a budget of $110,700, the campaign generated a public relations value of $AU225,666.


By implementing a truly integrated campaign, the team was successfully able to drive mass awareness and build a modern brand attitude that emotionally connected with the target audience. By generating talkability across advertising, public relations and promotional disciplines, the new Panadol Rapid Handipak was positioned in the hearts and minds of our target audience as a stylish pain relief option for women on the go.


Sonja McCarthy, Brand Manager at Panadol said, “The PR agency has become an important part of the Panadol Rapid Handipak team. They really embraced the challenge of making pain relief and our new packaging relevant and exciting for Australian consumers. They devised a very thorough and tailored plan, and then implemented it with passion and attention to detail.”