BUM'S THE WORD (busting a taboo/ redefining a category)

Tackling a taboo. Acting as a challenger to protect No.1 status for Anusol.

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Bums. We don’t tend to talk about them. And it means that haemorrhoid sufferers end up delaying treatment, sometimes forever.

That was a real problem for the UK’s leading haemorrhoid treatment, Anusol.

How do you build your brand when the condition it treats is so embarrassing that sufferers would rather not be able to sit down than seek help?

Previous Anusol work was wallowing in shared embarrassment, epitomising the category norm: rational, targeted sales activation - ashamed to be vocal about a common affliction.

This approach was doing serious damage. Sufferers had no reason to believe one brand was different from another; sales and share were in steady decline, the category stagnant.


The brand needed to build strong mental associations to stand out and be chosen.

It sparked a strategic shift, what if Anusol stopped thinking like a market leader and started behaving like a challenger?

Our strategy was to embrace Anusol’s distinctive directness - we identified this through reading Anusol’s Amazon reviews and noticing the difference in tone vs their competitors (see below) - and use it to take on the piles taboo in a humorous and engaging way.

Being direct – especially in a stigmatised category - can be freeing. You can destroy taboo and embarrassment by being completely unashamed.


Bum’s The Word is the taboo-busting campaign designed to attract attention, surprise and elicit a positive emotional response – while also delivering on benefit communication and education.

It’s built on distinctive assets: everyday objects that look like bottoms and anuses. This gets straight to the nub of the matter without being crude or scary.

Every detail aims to reduce stigma: the language is everyday, the typeface is friendly, the music is gently comical, and the VO is by cheeky taboo-buster Miriam Margolyes.


Bum’s The Word was transformational for the Anusol brand and the category.

The campaign drove a historic share high of 61% and created a new sales baseline of +17%. It also drove market penetration by 20% while all other partners declined. The category grew overall, while competitors had both a smaller share and smaller contribution to the category retail sales value compared to pre campaign. Shoppers were won including in grocers - the acid test of whether the taboo had been overcome - where people overcame their embarrassment of putting Anusol in their basked along with their Corn Flakes.

Beyond sales measures, the campaign had a positive impact on brand, with tracking confirming that consumers found Bum’s The Word enjoyable, funny, persuasive, credible and even joyful – brand image improved, including quality perceptions.

People noticed, enjoyed and shared the campaign, with Bums The Word generating a 294% increase in opportunites-to-see across social and 71 million OTS in earned media coverage.

All of the effectiveness was delivered efficiently with the production budget a modest £60k for the suite of bum-like assets. 

For effectiveness the campaign has been shortlisted at the Marketing Society Brave Awards and is in the running at this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards.


After success in the UK it has been rolled out to South Africa, Ireland, Australia and Canada.  And, the same creative vehicle is currently being used to launch Anusol Wipes in the UK:


The Gate

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