To Nurofen or not to

Well guess what – a study has decided that, no matter what you tell them, Nurofen makes people feel better faster than ordinary Ibuprofen 200.

No, Nurofen doesn’t have some mystical magical added ingrediant which improves its efficacy – it seems just the act of paying £3.65 for a product which costs 35p as Sainsbury’s own brand seems to make people feel better.

My mind raced back several years (dear god, not that long, I sound geriatric) when I as a young 24-year-old did a stint as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Frustrated at the meaninglessness of his job, a senior copywriter once exclaimed in the middle of a campaign ‘What nonsense we write – who thinks like this? That I will wear a suit and become a complete man?’ This was during an ad campaign for premium men’s suit materials – the baseline of the campaign was ‘The Complete Man’. This particular brand we are talking about was very successful from the moment it was launched- clearly branding works.

Nurofen is to ibuprofen what ‘The Complete Man’ is to suit materials or, indeed, if it comes to that, what Hermes is to bags. The price is not reflective of how much the product actually costs to build but how it makes you feel. You carry an expensive handbag because the inner dialogue presumably goes something like this: ‘Hot dog I’m carrying such an outrageously expensive bag, I must be something.’ Similar thoughts run through your mind when you put a ‘liquid capsule’ of Nurofen Express, priced at £4.20 for 16 tablets, in your mouth. ‘This medicine is expensive – I could’ve bought the 35p version at Sainsbury but I have spent more on my health so I must feel better.’

Even the act of spending money on oneself sends a rush of adrenaline gushing through one’s giddy veins – the faint guilt, the fleeting thoughts of What About Africa, instantly overwhelmed by the sheer pleasure of having bought something coveted. Let’s face it, the really stinking rich, Warren Buffet say, don’t buy Hermes and would pick a Sainsbury 35p ibuprofen over Nurofen every time. That’s how they stay rich – by sticking to the stuff closer than a brother. It’s people who are second rung, just about rich, who need to always keep buying stuff to feel good about themselves. You keep working your way down the riches food chain until you come to the plebs like us who need to buy Nurofen Express to feel good. Each time Mark Zuckerberg needs to feel good he eats an ice cream, we spend money on Nurofen and feel reassured at least there’s something just outright silly expensive we can buy for ourselves.

We are not rich enough to be cool like Buffet neither are we Africa – we are called the ‘aspirational classes’. In others words our whole lives are spent aspiring for something or the other. What we can afford, happily, is the Nurofen. And who is anyone to deprive us of that small pleasure? Others who are more economically educated than us might sneer at our little snobbery but in some small corner of our brain, it is our Hermes.



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