Covonia Hit Irritations Hard campaign imagery


Covonia’s campaign with agency Bray Leino, which ran during the 2019/20 cough season, aimed to take the brand’s long-standing ‘Feel the Power’ platform away from a traditional TV-led approach. Powered by new category innovation, this outperformed leading competitors while fitting within a greatly reduced budget.

A two-pronged targeting approach was implemented to deliver efficient, effective and measurable commercial uplift:

  • Innovation using a unique, state-of-the-art AI ‘cough predictor’ tool that enabled opportunistic targeting of areas experiencing cough outbreaks. This allowed the brand to meet people in their moment of need with product messaging that provided a solution.
  • Identifying a niche, growing audience opportunity of ‘easy switchers’ to achieve high-quality reach and gain a competitive advantage.

Objectives & Aims

Commercial, strategic and communications objectives were identified at the start of the campaign:

  • Increase brand market share.
  • Increase in YoY seasonal sales.
  • Drive market penetration of Covonia.
  • Increase YoY penetration among cough remedy users.
  • Increase YoY penetration among 18- to 34-year-old ‘easy switchers’.
  • Drive brand consideration and purchase in both categories.

The campaign was designed to fit within a reduced budget compared with previous years and called for an agile yet data-driven approach that would ensure maximum ROAS:

  • Activity focused on reaching ‘easy switchers’ aimed to establish brand appeal and consideration.
  • Activity targeting cough sufferers informed by the AI ‘cough predictor’ tool ensured that ads were being served in a timely manner to meet consumers with the right product.
  • The campaign creative was designed to be hard-hitting and an embodiment of the brand personality, with creative executions moulded around specific channel considerations for optimum impact.

Implementation, Execution & Tactics

Working across a broad palette of channels, Covonia’s campaign operated holistically, with awareness channels (social media and YouTube) targeting the ‘easy switchers’ 18- to 34-year-old demographic while the AI cough predictor tool targeted a broader audience of 18- to 50-year-old cough sufferers at the consideration end of the consumer journey funnel.

How do you target people suffering from a cough, cold or flu in real time? This question became the driving force behind the development of the AI ‘cough predictor’ tool.

The cough predictor was designed to intelligently account for variances in weather data after it was discovered that this held a strong correlation with cough incidences. After a few test months, it could give an accurate prediction of an impending cough outbreak forecasted one week ahead with 95% accuracy.

This informed Covonia’s digital targeting on social media and YouTube. The intelligence of the AI enabled Covonia’s online activity to be switched on and off across 12 UK regions weekly from November 2019 through to February 2020, maximising opportunistic messaging while allowing efficiencies in spend.


Covonia overdelivered against all key objectives in a fiercely competitive market, yielding the following results:

  • In November/December 2019, Covonia gained market share and grew penetration in this period to its highest YoY uplift of +14.3%.
  • Sales increased by 7%, outperforming the market and Covonia’s two key competitors.
  • Annual penetration of 18- to 34-year-olds – those in the ‘easy switchers’ demographic identified by the campaign – increased by 31.6%, when overall cough remedy penetration for this age group declined by 5.2%.
  • 25% of cough sufferers considered buying Covonia as a result of seeing campaign activity, while 17% went on to make a purchase. Among the ‘easy switchers’, these results were 42% and 26% respectively.
  • Between September 2019 and March 2020, the AI cough predictor made 360 predictions with up to 95% accuracy. The AI predicted 145 out of 169 outbreaks. Conversely, there were 191 opportunities to disable advertising, of which 140 were predicted and actioned, allowing efficiencies in spend.


Won the Marketing Week Masters 2020 Health and Life Sciences category.