Pepcid Heartburn Relief

Here’s an ad that almost gets it right.

The headline:


The copy below the headline:

Try PEPCID whenever heartburn strikes and tell us how it worked for you at If you don’t love the relief, your money will be cheerfully refunded.

The headline is simple and effective. If you don’t like this product, Johnson & Johnson will refund your money. Cheerfully.

But the creatives at the ad agency couldn’t resist trying to be clever and substituted a heart for the letter O in the word LOVE. Get it? Love…heart…heartburn. How clever!

But what is it? It kind of looks like a heart. Or maybe it’s an apple. Or a plush toy in the shape of a heart. Is there going to be an offer selling plush heart toys? Or plush apple toys?

The ad contains a call for action: visit a web site to tell the company how the product worked. But without an incentive, why would anyone take time out of their busy day to visit a web site and write about their experience with heartburn relief medicine? Why should they?

I don’t care if one dose of Pepcid will cure my heartburn for the rest of my life, the only thing that’s going to motivate me to visit their web site and write about their product is a sweepstakes with a chance to win a trip to Europe, or a car, or at the very least, a chance to win one of 50 iPhones.

The copy should have read:

Try PEPCID whenever heartburn strikes. Tell us how it worked for you at and you can win a trip to Italy.

Another problem with this campaign is the URL of the web site. was probably intentionally made to sound like Pepsi Challenge, an ad campaign that PepsiCo has been using since 1975. Because of this confusion, when I typed the URL to Pepcid’s site, I mistyped it as, where there is no web page. I’m probably not the only person to make this mistake.

Then there’s the refund offer. In order to get the refund, the consumer has to first visit the web site, where they find out they have to:

  • Include the original UPC from the PEPCID carton or bottle.
  • Send the original store receipt with the purchase price circled.
  • Download a pdf refund form from the company’s web site, print it, and fill it out.

If a consumer buys this product and then decides she doesn’t like it, she won’t realize that she needed to visit a web site to get the refund because it’s not explicitly stated in the ad.

If Johnson & Johnson was serious about the refund offer, they’d print a toll-free refund hotline number right on the product label.


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