When Zyrtec prescription allergy medicine launched, it was third to market. Claritin was dominant and growth of the category itself was slowing. What’s more, Zyrtec had only a fraction of the competition’s money. Luckily, Zyrtec did have one key point of differentiation: it was approved to treat more allergies than the competition, including both indoor and outdoor allergies. But in the antihistamine clutter, the creative had to get this information across in a compelling, original way.


While Claritin was selling sunny skies and commercialized music, the Zyrtec creative delivered its core message with off-beat testimonials from people who described their multiple allergies in a unique “allergy” language. These people were actually proud of their allergies, avoiding the stigma of the sneezing and wheezing going on elsewhere in category communication. And all this set up Zyrtec’s point-of-difference in a memorable, relevant way. Further, the campaign’s black-and-white documentary look gave it both authenticity and strong branding.


The campaign not only achieved the aggressive goals that had been set by the client but exceeded them. Unaided awareness jumped +59% from 22% to 35%. Total awareness increased +17% from 77% to 90%. Zyrtec’s market share increased and Claritin and Allegra lost share, culminating in a moment when, for the first time ever, Zyrtec became #1 in the antihistamine market with a share of 33.9%.