Buckley’s: The Good Taste of Bad Taste

I applaud Buckley’s for accentuating the hate with their cough syrup.

We all know cough syrup isn’t the best-tasting medicine. That’s why medicine companies have been introducing better-tasting concoctions loaded with sugar to help the medicine go down.

Not Buckley’s.

For years Buckley’s Cough Mixture, available in Canada since 1919, has been highlighting the fact their cough syrup tastes horrible, but it works. Print headlines in the past have been:

  • Your cough won’t know what hit it, neither will you.
  • Made with oil of pine needles. What did you expect it to taste like?
  • People swear by it. And at it.
  • Our largest bottle is 200 ml. Anything more would be cruel.
  • Not new. Not improved.
  • How bad does it taste? That depends. How bad is your cough?
  • Buckley’s is finally entering the US market and they aren’t backing down from their “tastes awful” positioning. TV spots include faux taste tests with blindfolded consumers asking them to tell the taste difference between Buckley’s vs. Used Mouthwash, Buckley’s vs. Trash Bag Leakage, Buckley’s vs. Public Restroom Puddle. Seriously. Click on the above links to watch the short commercials.

    Here’s a snippet from one of Buckley’s radio spots:

    “If you are inquiring about your cough mixture tasting like expired milk, trash-bag leakage, a postpedicure foot bath, a state fair porta-potty, decomposing meat fat, monkey sweat, used denture soak, New Jersey, or hippie-festival runoff, please hang up. Your cough will be gone shortly.”

    I applaud Buckley’s for accentuating the hate with their cough syrup. The easier path would have been to reformulate the cough syrup to taste better so as not to turn off customers. But by turning off customers, Buckley’s turns them on. Kudos to Buckley’s.

    And, kudos to the Wall Street Journal for the heads-up.