Sandman On Demand: ZzzQuil Product Name Review


I have to admit, I’ve taken Tylenol PM when I really didn’t have any pain. Sometimes when sleep has eluded you for a couple of nights, it’s okay to accept a teensy bit of OTC help (at least that’s what I tell myself). I’m sure the McNeil marketers were keenly aware of this consumer behavior when they came up with Simply Sleep Nighttime Sleep Aid­­­—basically, Tylenol PM without the Tylenol part.

So, it’s not surprising that the Vicks marketers picked up on this same consumer insight and recently launched ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid. It’s NyQuil sans the cough/cold/pain medication. A little piece of trivia around this: the sleep ingredient in most of these pain + sleep or cough/cold + sleep medications is Diphenhydramine HCl, more commonly known as Benadryl. Really, it’s just Benadryl! Don’t be too upset if you were duped—this practice of rebranding or repurposing products with a new name is an old trick of marketers.

Here are just some examples:

  • Gasoline—Gas is distributed on a mass scale through national pipelines, so all brands actually use the same base fuel. The only difference between, say Chevron or Arco gas is in the additives put in the gas to help your engine run clean.
  • L’Oreal—The L’Oreal Group is the parent company of both the luxury brand Lancome and the drugstore brands L’Oreal and Maybelline. Many of their products share identical or very similar formulas, simply marketed under different brands at different price points.
  • BupropionBupropion was initially marketed as the antidepressant, Wellbutrin. That same active ingredient was later found to be helpful to patients trying to quit smoking. So, GlaxoSmithKline launched the same drug under a different name (and a higher price point), Zyban, and marketed it as a smoking cessation aid.
  • Trader Joe’s—Many of you may have seen the Fortune article from a couple of years ago that revealed that many of Trader Joe’s products are just rebranded versions of well-known products.

Back to my ZzzQuil name review. Because of the onomatopoeicZzz” that signals snoring, I didn’t even have to read the “Nighttime Sleep-Aid” part to know exactly what this product is. That is the mark of a good product name, as it relays the product benefits right away in an engaging manner. Because of the ____QUIL construction, the name does a good job of leveraging the equity of the popular brand, NyQuil. I suppose if a person had no idea what NyQuil was, ZzzQuil would not mean anything to them. But, really, who doesn’t know what NyQuil is?

It’s also nice that the name uses the letter “Z.” It’s a unique letter not often used in names and that lends itself to the memorability of the name. Not only is it a unique name in the OTC landscape, it’s a unique product name in the consumer world at large.

By the way, this is not the first home run for Vicks. I’ve always been a fan of the NyQuil tagline: “The nighttime sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold… medicine.” Granted, it’s long, but it sticks and it communicates ALL the product benefits. I think most people would be able to match the slogan with the brand, always a sign of a good tagline.

So, if you’re ever lying in bed wondering if sleep will ever come, you have my permission to take a Simply Sleep, ZzzQuil, or a good ole Benadryl. 🙂


Final Grade:



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Global leader in CX Sitel Group has rebranded as Foundever. International naming is tough, but they could've found better.