Getting yourself heard through the post-Christmas fug can be tough, when the cash-strapped and partied-out stare glassy-eyed at the television, drained for a week or two of the irrepressible impulse to Buy Things.

A spot of controversy often does the trick, so top marks to Benylin for whipping up the biggest storm in a tea-cup since Heinz turned everyone in the UK instantaneously gay with a single mayonnaise commercial.

The new ad for its Cold & Flu Capsules taps the nation's stay-home zeitgeist by suggesting that - shock! - some people occasionally dodge work and call in sick even when their illnesses are less than terminal.

The company's attempt to re-brand the concept of pulling a sickie as 'taking a Benylin day' is hugely ambitious - and would surely have failed but for the dramatic intervention of an unlikely helper.

Indeed, the Federation of Small Businesses' complaint this week to the advertising watchdog that the commercial promotes absenteeism almost seems calculated to maximise publicity for the product.

It's viral marketing in the best possible sense.