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From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

Giving Gen Z’s Confidence to Get Rid of Cold Sores

Entered in Instagram Story

About this entry

Abreva is the leading over the counter cold sore medication, and the only OTC medicine that can get rid of cold sores in just 2.5 days when used at the first sign. Competitor brands treat the symptoms of cold sores by concealing, moisturizing or relieving pain caused by cold sore blisters, but only Abreva contains Docosanol which penetrates deep into the skin to the source of the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) that causes cold sores, and blocks the virus by providing a barrier to protect healthy skin cells.

This campaign's objective was to get new sufferers who are experiencing cold sores for the first time to consider treating with Abreva. As Gen Z consumers come of age and begin to have cold sores, Abreva aims to become their cold sore treatment of choice.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

The average age for experiencing a first cold sore is 15 years old. This is also the age when sufferers first familiarize themselves with methods of treating cold sores, and represents an opportunity for Abreva to present itself to consumers who may continue to experience and treat cold sores over their lifetime.

Just like other generations of cold sore sufferers, Gen Z can't help but feel embarrassed and ashamed when a cold sore outbreak occurs on their lip. All that's on their mind at that moment is to just GET RID OF IT immediately. They don't want that cold sore getting in the way of living their best life.

Gen Z consumers are resourceful and more often turn to their peers and online sources of information like YouTubers and influencers rather than a doctor or pharmacist. This is why they might look into DIY toolkit solutions online for their more intimate problems rather than turn to an OTC treatment. They're skeptical of advertising and brands, especially medicine. That means Abreva needs to appear authentically to capture their attention and inspire consideration.

Abreva's overarching strategy was to get early sufferers to consider using Abreva in their cold sore treatment regimen by giving them confidence that they can get rid of cold sores fast. To accomplish this, Abreva chose to address Gen Z consumers on the platform most suited to their specific media consumption behavior: Instagram Stories.

With a series of five Instagram Stories, we described relatable awkward life moments made worse by the tingle of a nascent cold sore outbreak, and showed how Abreva turns the situation around by giving our Gen Z cold sore sufferers their confidence back and returning them to their normal, wonderful selves.

Our creative executions utilized conversational copy and bold art direction that felt native to the Instagram Stories platform, including stickers/GIFs and a storytelling approach that builds over three successive Instagram Stories. The creative always culminated with our Gen Z characters regaining control over the situation (and getting rid of the cold sore) together with Abreva.


- Over 22 million impressions with a 4.5% video view rate (3+ second views)

- Reached more than 4.5 million Gen Z Instagram users

- Nearly 25,000 swipe-ups driving to, with a swipe-up rate of 0.11%

- Abreva sales were 1.6% greater than the previous year during the campaign period

- Abreva achieved its highest market share of 2018 during the campaign period


Video for Giving Gen Z’s Confidence to Get Rid of Cold Sores

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Weber Shandwick, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Abreva

Entry Credits