Panadol invents 'life headache' and luckily has the cure

Headaches are changing. Is there a cure for migranes?
Headaches are changing. Is there a cure for migranes?

HEADACHES have been knocking us down and making us pop pills since time immemorial and unfortunately there might be another version of the debilitating ache on the horizon.

In a new ad released by Panadol, one of Australia's leading painkiller brands, we're told "headaches have changed".

The ad promotes Panadol's "Home of Reconnection", a house on the NSW South Coast that's inviting a handful of families to spend a weekend there and get away from technology.

Why? Because a side-effect of our technology-saturated world is giving everyone "life headaches".

Panadol’s ‘Home of Reconnection’.
Panadol’s ‘Home of Reconnection’.

And it was that exact term, a "life headache", that didn't sit well with the panel of Gruen earlier this week, an ABC show that deconstructs advertisements.

The ad campaign, branded as a way of "reminding Australians to take time away from their devices and reconnect with friends and families", even enlisted the talents of radio host Ryan "Fitzy" Fitzgerald for its warm and fuzzy ad.

But as Gruen panellist and advertising expert Russel Howcroft pointed out, it's difficult to understand what exactly a "life headache" is from the ad.

"I'm looking at this ad and it's told me headaches have changed but have they? Like what's the support to the idea," he said.

Chad Mackenzie, the national executive creative director of whiteGrey and the company behind the Panadol ad, said they used the term "life headache" as a "colloquialism".

"A 'life headache' is a colloquialism used to describe an everyday annoyance or stress. Something that interrupts your plans and affects the way you interact with people. A life headache doesn't often involve physical pain, but can have a similar effect. And we know from our research, that the overuse of tech has become one of these 'life headaches', and can cause stress and pain - both physical and emotional."

Mr Howcroft wasn't as convinced.

"This invention of a life headache, they're asking a lot. I suppose what they want is for me to just wake up every morning and have a Panadol because life is a headache," he said.


The ad, as Panadol claims, is broadening the product's M.O. from "pain relief now" to "switching off life headaches".

Todd Sampson, a fellow Gruen panellist, said Panadol advising people on how to permanently get rid of "life headaches" couldn't be good for business.

"If there were no headaches, there'd be no pills, profit or company. On base logic, they don't want to cure the actual problem, they make money from curing the symptoms. They're banking on apathy. We spend a lot of time treating symptoms and very little time actually preventing it or solving the problem."

Karen Ferry, a copywriter and occasional Gruen panellist, said Panadol was expertly inserting itself into the issue of our lives causing headaches.

"They're inserting themselves into the problem. We know that life's headaches are caused by blue screens. So next time you get a blue screen headache, instead of turning off you'll be like, 'Oh my god Panadol,' go take a box and then you continue watching the full season of Twin Peaks," she said.

The net Panadol can now cast over pain management is becoming increasingly wider - only helped by the amount of time we spend on technology these days.

Mr Mackenzie, the person behind the ad, said the way we're getting headaches nowadays directly correlates with their "headaches are changing" motto.

"Headaches are no longer just physical. Our busy, modern lives are full of things that create tension and stress which can lead to physical, emotional and social pain - our 24/7 tech habits being one of them. Among all the positives associated with being 'always on' comes the drawback of having to be always available. And, just like physical pain, this can affect the way we connect with the people around us," he said.

Topics:  headache health offbeat panadol

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