Achoo! With cold season on the horizon, Mucinex needed to stand out in a competitive market, so its team pulled together to tackle YouTube's TrueView in a bold new way. By pairing both targeting and strong creative, Mucinex mounted a campaign that garnered millions of views and drove search lift.


  • 16M TrueView views
  • 250% lift in Google search volume for Mucinex brand
  • 67% lift in ad recall
  • 10.4% lift in purchase intent
June 2016

The Challenge

For most of us, cold and flu season can't end soon enough. For Mucinex, a short cold and flu season means there's a small window of opportunity to connect meaningfully with consumers. Mucinex needed a way to break through in a crowded marketplace and stay top of mind with customers even when they're not sneezing. The solution? Mr. Mucus took on TrueView's skip button.

The Approach

YouTube reaches sniffers and coughers far and wide

Using TrueView, YouTube's choice-based ad format, Mucinex and its creative team at McCann grabbed the attention of millions of people in key moments during the peak cold and flu season. "YouTube is one of those platforms that everybody engages with and they engage at all times of the day. So it was a great way to reach a lot of people," said Geoff Bentz, creative director at McCann.


Breakthrough creative that plays with the skip button

TrueView's skip button is a win for viewers and advertisers. Viewers like being able to skip ads that don't interest them and brands like paying only for people who choose to watch their unskippable advertising. Mucinex found a bold way to be unskippable by calling out the skip button directly—and having Mr. Mucus beg people to use it.


"People are waiting to hit that skip button. Our thought was to call attention to it. By having Mr. Mucus ask people to skip our ad, we thought we could get people to stop and say, wait a minute, why do they want us to skip this?" Bentz said. Mucinex wasn't just serving up ads, but took active part in people's pre-roll experience.

Affinity targeting shapes audience

Targeting tools and continued optimization played a critical role in serving the ads to high-performing groups. Rich Sidoli, a senior brand manager at RB (maker of Mucinex) explained, "Getting to the right audience and being able to target within the audience are what makes YouTube a very attractive place to advertise."

When potential viewers weren't being targeted, people were actually seeking out the ads, resulting in a 127% lift in search volume.


Audience Targeting allowed Mucinex to reach multiple audiences like parents and other particular demos, which drove reach at scale. Affinity audiences (like movie and comedy fans) and custom affinity audiences (like shoppers and green-living enthusiasts) had high engagement and consistently high view-through rates, while remarketing was a top performer across the board.

When potential viewers weren't being targeted, people were actually seeking out the ads, resulting in a 127% lift in search volume for the ads. The mix of captivating creative and strategic targeting paid off big time for Mucinex, with impressive view-through rates (27.4%), lower cost-per-views, and twice as many views as expected.

"YouTube campaigns like these create strong consumer affinity for the brand over time. Reaching people on YouTube helps cement us as people's go-to solution when they have a cold or the flu," concluded Michael Kane, healthcare marketing director at RB (maker of Mucinex).


Affinity Targeting

The Results