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Vitamin drink debuts Canadian ads with dose of germophobia

Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter@Susinsky.

Powdered vitamin drink Emergen-C is making its ad debut in Canada, with a colourful, cheery dose of germophobia.

A series of posters in the fruity colours of the fizzy drink's flavours depicts retro-style illustrations of characters needing a "Kapow" boost, either because of sickness or fatigue. They include Frank, a broad-chested mustachioed fellow whose "firm handshake wasn't firm enough to kill germs"; Louis, who would like to quit his cubicle gig but settles for a cure of the "afternoon slump"; and a variety of others who have been assailed by the germs rampant in everyday life, from the escalator to their children's day care.

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It is a first for the product in Canada; while in the U.S., Emergen-C is known for ads starring Pixar-style animated characters, the brand was previously distributed here since 2002 without any advertising.

However, after Pfizer Inc. acquired the maker of Emergen-C, Alacer Corp., last February, the pharmaceutical giant decided to elevate it from a "niche brand" in the Canadian market.

The new work, by Toronto-based agency Juniper Park, launches on Monday with posters and murals in Toronto and Montreal. Online banner ads will follow later in the month, along with a revamped Canadian website.

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