Saturday, October 27, 2018

188. For Aches, Pains, Trancazo: CAFIASPIRINA, Print Ads 1936- 1962

CAFIASPIRINA INK BLOTTER, Premium/ Giveaway. 1950s.

Bayer, the drug company that would give the world it most popular pain medicine—aspirin—was founded by German Friedrich Bayer on 1 August 1868. 

From manufacturing chemicals, it engaged in producing pharmaceutical products, and in 1899, Bayer Aspirin was introduced and the medication proved to be a universal success for the relief of minor aches, pains and fever.

Between the two World Wars,  new aspirin brands and aspirin-based products flooded the market. Brands like Aspro (Australia), St. Joseph’s, Burton’s and Molloy’s  (U.S.) were marketed internationally. In Latin America, Bayer produced a pain and fever relief brand fancifully called CAFIASPIRINA, coined from the Spanish word for "caffeine" combined with  "aspirin" (acetylsalicylic acid) , its 2 main ingredients.


CAFIASPIRINA became a popular pain medication brand in Latin American countries, like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and even in Spain and Portugal  in the mid 1920s, where it was heavily advertised. By 1936, CAFIASPIRINA ads began making their appearances in Philippine magazines. It quickly established itself as a trusted fever and pain relief medication.

Cortal, introduced in the 1950s, proved to be a worthy rival of CAFIASPIRINA, and both engaged in marketing wars. To push CAFIASPIRINA, an illustrated cartoon figure of a Filipina nurse began appearing on its print ads, most of which were drawn as comic strips.
NURSE CAFI, brand mascot, 1951

CAFIASPIRINA Comic Strip Ad, 1955.

Thus, Nurse CAFI joined the league of comic characters like Kenkoy and Capt. Cortal as brand icons to sell products in the marketplace. The illustration of Nurse CAFI, finished in 1948 but used only in 1951 ads, shows her in a typical white uniform holding a giant CAFIASPIRINA tablet foil pack. She appeared not only in print ads but also on botica merchandising signs with the battlecry--"Stop Pain! Feel Fine Again!",


In the course of 10 years CAFIASPIRINA was advertised on the basis of quick action (“works faster than wonder drugs”), efficacy (“goes straight to the source of pain”) , safety (“does not affect the heart”), and formulation (“ 3 marvelous pain fighters”). The brand actively was promoted in point-of-sale, through botica merchandising materials, premiums and giveaways.
RARE, ENAMEL SIGN FOR A BOTICA, Merchandising giveaway. 1950s

Cortal, however, was perceived as a more modern medication, and would eventually wrest market leadership from CAFIASPIRINA. CAFIASPIRINA advertising began tapering off in 1962, in favor of Bayer Aspirin ads, and such new product launches as St. Joseph’s Aspirin, also by Bayer. By mid 1960s, Cortal had become the best-selling pain relief brand in the Philippines. 

CAFIASPIRINA, strip ad, 1962

Today, CAFIASPIRINA continues to be produced by Bayer and remains a strong, loyal following in Spanish-speaking countries.


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