Pain is no laughing matter. So why did ThermaCare hire comedian-actor Ken Jeong as its new spokesman?
For several reasons, it turns out, that revolve around a new brand personality for the therapeutic heat wraps, a willingness to take risks and a celebrity fan who’s also a doctor.
ThermaCare, working with creative agency TRG, has launched a series of spots with Jeong showing off both his medical degree and his comedy chops.
The popular judge on Fox’s mega-hit series The Masked Singer and alum of the Hangover movies is rocking a white lab coat—the official uniform of physicians everywhere—while tossing off witty one-liners about competing pain relief methods. He also manages to fit in some of his trademark shameless self-promotion, delivered with a knowing wink.
The approach bucks the trend in the category, where marketing usually leans into scientific studies and product demos. It’s dry stuff, in other words, with graphs, charts and body parts.
To inject some life into the space, creatives said they wanted to “combine education with fun” and explain the product benefits “without putting people to sleep.”
The doctor is in
While there was a plan B if Jeong had been uninterested or unavailable, the team developed the commercials with him specifically in mind. The concept, nearly a year in the making, includes the tagline, “Bring the heat.”
Even with contingency plans, “I still felt a good deal of anxiety when we finally got the go-ahead to approach him with the idea,” Dave Stone, associate creative director at the agency, said of Jeong. “I was truly ecstatic when he eventually saw the creative and seemed genuinely enthusiastic to be part of it.”
Jeong, who already knew and used the brand, said he didn’t need much convincing. “It really came down to the creative,” he said in a statement. “Once I reviewed all the work, I knew it was going to be a great fit. Really funny stuff.”
The spots were shot this summer in a single 10-hour day in suburban Los Angeles, where Jeong entertained the crew between takes, according to the agency.
The result: ads with a bright orange backdrop and a sunny disposition, where Jeong talks about being set free with ThermaCare HeatWraps, as opposed to being tethered to an old-school heating pad.
What comes across clearly—in addition to the humor—is the portability of the product, which means that consumers can go about their everyday routines instead of being stuck at home.
“When we landed on ThermaCare’s brand personality of ‘bold and supportive without taking ourselves too seriously,’ Dave and I didn’t know exactly how far the client would let us go in that ‘not taking ourselves too seriously’ realm,” Alexis Bingham, associate creative director, told Adweek. “But they were all in on it, and so were we.”
The campaign will run across digital and social, including connected TV, with additional spots expected later this year.