Theraflu Is Mapping Colds And Flu Outbreaks Down To The Retail Level

The GSK Consumer Healthcare brand is working with The Weather Company and crowdsourcing data provider Sickweather to keep track of where flu activity is happening to direct sufferers to real-time remedies at the hyperlocal level.

Just in time for the sore throats, sneezes, and other signs of seasonal sickness in many parts of the country, GSK Consumer Healthcare is launching a campaign to introduce its Theraflu ExpressMaxTM Caplets that promises to connect consumers feeling fluish with local retailers that carry the brand.

To direct sufferers to places that have Theraflu products, GSK Consumer Healthcare is collaborating with IBM-owned meteorological analytics platform, The Weather Company and its sibling, The Weather Channel, to create The Cold & Flu Tracker. Areas where incidences of such illnesses are occurring will be shown on the Tracker’s heat map, which will be featured on The Weather Channel and Theraflu online properties, mobile sites/apps, and social media feeds.

Theraflu's Cold and Flu Tracker's heatmap of outbreaks features real-time information from The Weather Company, Sickweather, the CDC, and will alert consumers on The Weather Channel's and Theraflu's digital properties, along with other publishers' interactive platforms as well.
Theraflu’s Cold and Flu Tracker’s heatmap of outbreaks features real-time information from The Weather Company, Sickweather, the CDC, and will alert consumers on The Weather Channel’s and Theraflu’s digital properties, along with other publishers’ interactive platforms as well.

Real-time Flu Mapping — And Marketing

Information on The Weather Channel media properties, such as its mobile apps, will highlight locations that are experiencing cold and flu activity. The updates will be shown in “real-time” on a map that pinpoints clusters of outbreaks.

The map is powered by by data from Sickweather, a platform that tracks illnesses from its crowdsourcing community members, as well as information from The Centers for Disease Control. The actual mapping system Sickweather relies upon to post its data points comes from OpenStreetMaps with design and data visualization tools by Mapbox.

Lastly, GSK Consumer Healthcare has the list of local retailers that will be featured as sources of relief in the form of Theraflu’s line of medicines.

flu season aheadConnecting The Dots On Personalization And Wellness

The marketing brings together The Weather Company’s use of location data, digital ad and content creation, and voice-activated search on behalf of clients, of which GSK Consumer Healthcare, Campbell’s Soup, and packaged goods giant Unilever signed on for back in June.

This set of tools was also noted for being built on the Watson IoT Cloud platform. IBM bought The Weather Company late last year, which left its media arm, The Weather Channel, operating separately under a consortium that includes NBC Universal, Bain Capital, and The Blackstone Group.

In March, Paul Walsh, The Weather Company’s climate strategist, noted plans to combine weather, wellness, and geo-data would to reshape and personalize healthcare marketing. The work with GSK Consumer Healthcare and its other platform partners is a perfect of example of that plan, said Jeremy Steinberg, The Weather Company’s global head of sales.

“Our goal at Weather is to create experiences that engage, educate, and delight our fans, and we know when we do that, marketers benefit too,” Steinberg said, in a statement. “Our new Cold and Flu Tracker will help our fans get ahead of flu activity as much as possible, and by doing that, we know we’re adding tremendous value to their experience with us.

“Leveraging Sickweather and Watson Ads helps us further connect the dots for our users and marketers in order to keep people informed — in this case, about illness rather than weather conditions,” Steinberg added.

express max boxThe Campaign In Action

Here’s how the all the moving parts of the campaign will work together: Sickweather will scan social posts that indicate signs of people coming down with a cold or the flu.

On The Weather Channel app, users can access localized real-time cold and flu activity information through the health module, which will include a dial for current local “Cold & Flu” conditions, a “heat map” of hyperlocal cold and flu activity, as well as current and historical CDC reports. On and, visitors will have access to the tracker’s “heat map,” an interactive map with national and hyperlocal cold and flu activity based on sentiment data to show where mentions of couching, sneezing, and other symptons are popping up around the U.S.

As part of the rollout of the Theraflu ExpressMaxTM Caplets, The Weather Channel has also developed a “custom Cold & Flu sentiment trigger” that will send targeted ads to consumers based on local social conversations and weather conditions.

In addition, retailers selling Theraflu products will also be promoted according to the sentiment data and The Weather Channel’s and Theraflu’s digital properties’ first-party location data in order to accurately reach consumers who are in close proximity to stores located in markets with cold and flu are prevalent.

GSK Consumer Healthcare will also use those triggers to activate ads on other platforms and publishers’ sites beyond The Weather Channel.

“Weather’s Cold and Flu Tracker is a truly unique and powerful concept that gives consumers the opportunity to get ahead and be prepared for the flu season as much as possible,” said Theresa Agnew, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s CMO. “The combination of social sentiment and cognitive learning will not only inform and advise consumers, but it will provide fantastic insights for the marketing team as well in terms of knowing when to merchandise and market the Theraflu brand in different areas of the country.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.