How do you begin to shift deeply entrenched consumer perceptions? How do you take a brand from medicinal to multi-purpose in a way that’s relevant and credible to a savvy and cynical target consumer group? If you’re HALLS cough drops and you’re looking for 18-24 year-olds to embrace your product – especially the new strawberry flavor  -- as the must-have, sore throat soother for all of their loud life activities, you turn up the PR volume …  really loud. To re-position HALLS products as beneficial not only for people with sore throats, but also for people who “live life loudly,” BSMG Worldwide developed the “Screaming Fans HALLS of Fame: HALLS Search for America’s Loudest College Football Fan.” This uniquely branded program did more than deliver the brand’s key messages, it shouted them … and it did in a way that caught the imagination of consumers and the media nationwide.  


In the spring of 2000, the Adams Division of Pfizer approached BSMG Worldwide with a formidable challenge: move HALLS cough drops from medicinal to all-purpose lozenges made to soothe the throats of people who use, and overuse, their voice. Adams also wanted to promote the product to a young audience (18 – 24 year-olds) and introduce them to a new flavor created just for them – HALLS Strawberry.


In a short time period, BSMG arranged the entire tour schedule, based on long-standing college rivalries and major media outlets. In addition, the tour had to hit as many of the different football conferences as possible in eight-weeks. BSMG worked with the HALLS team to develop the following PR objectives:

Reposition the HALLS as an “empowering,” rather than simply a “healing” product

Reinvent HALLS as the indispensable “power lozenge” for a generation that has to shout to be heard

Link the HALLS brand to the throat-threatening passions of Gen. Y

Generate awareness and drive trial for new HALLS Strawberry product


Demonstrate that HALLS is a “must-have” for anyone and everyone who understands what it means to have passion  -- and express it loudly

Create opportunistic programming that is relevant and meaningful to the target audience

Motivate the core target group to take action (e.g. participate in contests)

Use the media as a conduit to reach target consumers


The Game Plan: Screaming Fans Halls Of Fame 

Clearly, nobody shouts, hoots and hollers or uses their throats more fervently than sports fans.  And in the fall, you’ll find no more enthusiastic 18-24 year olds than the fanatics who fill the bleachers at college football stadiums. It’s for these fans who purr with passion and explode with excitement that BSMG created the Screaming Fans HALLS of Fame: The Search for America’s Loudest College Football Fan. (Importantly, the concept was developed with longevity and extendibility in mind (e.g. executions against basketball, music tours, etc.).

The Draft

BSMG set off on the HALLS Search for America’s Loudest Football Fan in a 15-foot logo-wrapped trailer dubbed the HALLS Decibel Dome.  In the tailgate areas of long-running, popular rivalries and in sports bars throughout the country, fans were called onstage to demonstrate their throat-threatening passions.  Their volume was measured by the HALLS custom decibel meter, while local sports anchors and the HALLS Scream Team scored contestants on originality, individuality and creativity (because true college fans are anything but bland).

The winners walked away with handheld color televisions and a trip to College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana, in December to compete against other finalists for the title of  “America’s Loudest College Football Fan.”  

The Pre-/Post-Game Buzz

To get the fans fired up that HALLS Decibel Dome was rolling into town, BSMG enlisted local “recruiters” (a.k.a. college students) to distribute flyers on campus, in local hangouts and in student unions, as well to assist with outreach to college media.  Of course, calendar alerts and advisories were distributed in advance of each event, encouraging folks to try out and the media to catch them in action.  And in select markets, BSMG worked with radio stations targeted at college students to hype the contest. Screamers and spectators walked away from the HALLS Decibel Dome with logo’d footballs, megaphones and foam hands along with samples of the new HALLS Strawberry.  

The HALLS Bowl

The season culminated on Saturday, December 16, 2000 with the first annual HALLS Bowl, where 13 of the loudest and most passionate fans from across the country competed in a final “scream off.” Make-up artists were on hand to help contestants with the “finishing touches” – from face paint to full body paint. And the College Football Hall of Fame Stadium Theater was converted into a virtual Decibel Dome for the day’s festivities. The winner topped 111 decibels and credited HALLS with keeping her throat in shape for her spine chilling screams.

Following the competition, a temporary Screaming Fans HALLS of Fame exhibit -- featuring a working decibel meter, a gumball machine dispensing samples of HALLS Strawberry product and gridiron backdrop created from more than 16,000 HALLS cough drops -- was dedicated.  (The exhibit is receiving rave reviews and is on display at the College Football Hall of Fame through Summer 2001.)

The Media Circus:

BSMG booked pre-competition interviews from 6:00am to 11:00am on Friday, December 15, 2000.  The contestants talked with television and radio stations in their hometowns (and to the simply curious as far away as Johannesburg, South Africa).  A carefully choreographed schedule of 27 interviews with rotating spokespeople helped build the excitement as the big contest approached.  

All tolled, The Screaming Fans HALLS of Fame program generated more than 540 media placements and generated more than 160 million consumer impressions by reaching enthusiastic consumers with attention-getting and, most importantly, branded messages.  (Anchors all over the country were saying, “the contest is sponsored appropriately by HALLS cough drops.”)  Major national broadcasts and print coverage including CNN/SI, CNN Airport, CNN International and a feature story in USA Today. Regional coverage reached sixty-two of the top seventy-five media markets and sixteen of the top-twenty markets, from New York to Los Angeles and Miami to Minneapolis.  And more than 338,000 samples of the new HALLS Strawberry made it into the hands and in the mouths of target consumers.