CNS, Inc.

Author:Ed Dinger

Page 337

7615 Smetana Lane

Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344


Telephone: (952) 229-1500

Fax: (952) 229-1700

Web site:


During the early 1990s Breathe Right nasal strips, manufactured and marketed by CNS, Inc., enjoyed a meteoric rise in sales. This success was largely attributed to the influence of certain prominent athletes, who wore the strip to enhance performance. It also succeeded to an extent as a cure for problem snorers but had difficulty breaking into the more crowded cold and allergy field. While the product gained brand recognition, it became typecast as a specialized product for star athletes. Sales peaked in the mid-1990s, as did the price of CNS stock, and the company launched several marketing efforts aimed at reaching a family audience. In particular, women were targeted because they bought most of the cold remedies in the house, and since a greater number of men than women had snoring problems, women were the ones most affected by snoring and more motivated to seek a product to curb the problem. In an attempt to appeal to married problem snorers, generally 50 years and older, CNS in 2004 introduced its "Back in the Sack" campaign, developed by ad agency Olson & Company. The strategy was to convince couples that Breathe Right nasal strips could ease the snoring that hurt so many relationships.

With a budget of less than $1 million, "Back in the Sack" was in essence a direct-response campaign. The goal was to convince consumers to request a six-night sample pack of nasal strips either by calling a toll-free telephone number or by registering at a dedicated website. CNS felt confident that if people tried the product they would become customers. The TV spots ran late at night or early in the morning, the times when the problem of snoring was most on the minds of consumers. Morning radio personalities who tried the strips to alleviate their own snoring and offered their own testimonials played a major role in the campaign, as did a print ad that ran in a Sunday newspaper coupon insert. The website also provided educational information and the chance to send a humorous Snore-O-Gram E-mail message to loved ones, urging them to give Breathe Right a chance to address their snoring problem.

Despite its limited budget the "Back in the Sack" campaign far exceeded its goals. The response rate to the sampling effort was five times the target, while sales increased at more than twice the anticipated rate. The campaign also won a prestigious EFFIE award in 2005 and continued to drive sampling and sales for CNS.


After receiving Food and Drug Administration approval in late 1993, the Breathe Right adhesive nasal strip, used to keep nasal passages open, found a ready market not with chronic snorers but with athletes. The company that

Page 338

HISTORICAL CONTEXT © Michael Keller/Corbis. Reproduced by Permission. produced the product, CNS, Inc., mailed samples to National Football League trainers, people who were more likely than most to understand the biology behind the strips. The Philadelphia Eagles were the first to give the product a try, applying it to the nose of running back Herschel Walker, who at the time was suffering from a cold, before he rushed for 269 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Star San Francisco 49ers' wide receiver Jerry Rice then wore the strip for a Monday Night Football game, generating national attention for the Breathe Right...

To continue reading