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​Inside Nurofen’s campaign to close the gender pain gap


By The Drum, Editorial

June 13, 2024 | 4 min read

Taking Data/Insight Gold at The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA 2024 is Nurofen’s See My Pain from Zenith UK. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning work

Example of winning work

Background & Objectives

Studies show that the pain levels of monthly menstrual cramps are equivalent to having a heart attack and that giving birth without pain relief is akin to leg amputation without anaesthetic (source: Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology). Women experience more recurrent pain, longer lasting pain, and higher overall levels of chronic pain than men. Yet 80% of clinical pain trials are still carried out on men. This is reflected in the way healthcare professionals treat male and female pain (56% of women feel their pain is trivialised by healthcare professionals, versus a much lower number for men).

Meantime, the pain relief category is in decline. There was a chance to highlight the gender pain gap and the role Nurofen can play in soothing pain for all – equally, without shame – and improve Nurofen’s market share.


Specially commissioned research, The Nurofen Gender Pain Gap Index Report, shows the problem extends beyond medical professionals; 1 in 4 women say their spouse or partner dismisses their pain (compared with 1 in 6 men). And over 60% say their employer has dismissed their pain.

To close the gender pain gap, a seismic shift in British attitudes was needed.


See My Pain

We began with an editorially immersive partnership with The Guardian. The centrepiece was ‘The Pain Issue’, showcasing startling facts from our research and sparking conversation to encourage women to discuss their pain.

Co-branded digital takeovers ran in contextually relevant locations on The Guardian homepage using spoof display ads that played on the tropes of pharmaceutical advertising and revealed the condescending suggestions women had received for treating their pain. Bespoke podcast editorial was created to drive listeners to a ‘See My Pain’ hub where they could learn more about the cause and women could share their own pain stories.

But to make an invisible problem seen, our message needed to be seen by everyone. We ran a four-day screen domination at Waterloo station, and other key rail stations in London and Birmingham. A Metro cover wrap ran alongside the commuter OOH.

Our video approach was based on maximising attention with a 30” spot running on TV, broadcaster VOD, and un-skippable YouTube Trueview. While across Meta, we used a variety of scroll-stopping messages to push women to the See My Pain platform.


  • Nurofen has grown market share by 1 pp in a category down 3% YoY.
  • Secured £3m funding from the NHS for gender pain gap training for GPs.
  • Nurofen now runs gender-balanced clinical trials and is lobbying the industry to follow suit.
  • ‘Gender pain gap’ is now the fastest growing medical term on Google Trends.
  • Received 308 pieces of earned media with 94% positive sentiment.
  • This was the most engaging Reckitt YT campaign ever in the UK with a 200% higher VTR than benchmarks.

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

Awards Case Studies The Drum Awards For Marketing EMEA Marketing

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