Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, May 22, 2021

spell relief
While browsing through a Duane Reade last week, I noticed this odd-looking rack of wares on an end-aisle. The hanging unit invites you over with a simple exhortation: “What’s Wrong?”. The individual packets provide the guiding-tandem answer: “Help I have a headache”, “Help I can’t sleep”, “Help I’ve cut myself”, etc.

At the time, I wasn’t suffering from any of the addressed ailments. So I moved on. But I kept a mental note on the display, with its unconventionally simple and colorful packaging.

It’s the product of Help Remedies, a quirky little startup in generic pharmaceuticals. It’s a New York-based operation, which explains their Duane Reade placement (although the look-and-feel of their output put me more in mind of something you’d find in Target, so don’t be surprised to find Help products there soon enough). There’s a distinct philosophy at play here:

[Design firm] ChappsMalina was approached by Help Remedies, a New York City-based startup with a big idea: to revolutionize over-the-counter medication. The resulting line consists of 6 products that are designed to guide you through the medication aisle with ease and comfort. From “help, I have a headache” to “help, I can’t sleep”, instead of yelling “FAST ACTING!” and “EXTRA STRENGTH”, the brand whispers in lower case empathy.

The product approach was simple; keep it clean and minimal with enough coding to clearly articulate my needs in a moment of crisis as directly as possible. Instead of lab coats, ChappsMalina chose to communicate content through the soft topography of the packaging material, that is reminiscent of a soft white pillow. To reinforce the Help Remedies message of responsibility, we designed the packaging using a highly innovative combination of paper pulp and co-molded corn-based plastic, making it completely compostable and a first of its kind.

They’re not kidding about that compostable claim; in fact, they’re tracking the mold- and worm-filled bio-breakdown of the material online (and via Twitter, of course).

Help certainly got my attention, which is the primary point. Then again, I didn’t buy anything. Even if I had been in the market for some ibuprofen or bandages that day, the offbeat presentation struck me as just a little too un-drugstore. If I’m hurting, I appreciate the empathy, but also want the straightforward relief. I don’t get that by wondering what’s up with the kooky sales pitch.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/22/2010 12:36pm
Category: Business, Creative, Science
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