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A discussion about the American Auto Industry's recent marketing, advertising, and public relations efforts in response to the industry's troubles. Read more

Abe Kasbo

He is the Michael Jordan of the chest cavity…and a peddler of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug, Lipitor. For the past 2 years, this non-practicing MD, Dr. Robert Jarvik, has lent his name and his fame to Pfizer and now Congress wants some answers. So what?

For starters, this ad campaign is the equivalent of Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” Campaign. “Be Like Mike Jarvik” that is…take Lipitor, you can run, row, hang out with your son…and if Dr. Jarvik, a heart expert, is doing it, perhaps you should too. Dr. Jarvik is not a cardiologist, but he invented the artificial heart. How he went from that to a pitching for the druggies is beyond me…a new low.

It’s time to stop. Hey big pharma and your pitch people, I am sure your research tells you that the majority of your audience did not go to medical school, so bombarding them with brand name drugs only puts pressure on the docs to subscribe, right folks? It’s makes a mocry of medicine and of the audience because now suddenly every dick, jane and harry (steve too), is talking about your drugs, and recommending to their friends like their favorite shampoo.

I find this amazing considering Americans are sold on the false perception that they have the best healthcare on the planet, and big pharma is spending billions on marketing. Don’t get me wrong, as a marketer, I welcome advertising and marketing, as long as we cut out the BS. There are other ways to market drugs, advertising is certainly one way, another would be by educating physicians on their benefits and side effects and providing consumer information on the web or in brochure form.

According to nytimes.com, since coming under fire, Dr. Jarvik recently stated on his website, “I believe the process of educating the public is beneficial to many patients, and I am pleased to be part of an effort to reach them.” [author's note - Que? What? Is this Dr. Phil?] Where do I start respond to that statement? What “process of education” is he talking about?

This is advertising Dr. Jarvik not community health.

Now it’s Pfizer’s spin mister’s turn…check out this quote from The New York Times Article: “Pfizer stands behind its consumer advertising for Lipitor and our work with Dr. Jarvik to deliver important information on managing heart health,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Our primary concern in all of our advertising is that the tone and content are appropriate for the intended audiences, and that it will ultimately result in encouraging valuable patient/physician dialogue that can lead to appropriate treatment.”

Allow me to interpret sil vous plais (that’s French for please for your non Francophiles)…Pfizer will sell Lipitor how it pleases. Pfizer shall use phrases like “managing heart health…encouraging valuable patient/physician dialogue” to ensure that you know that they care about you and to make sure that you buy Lipitor…Ask your doctor folks, ask your doctor…

Since coming under fire, Dr. Jarvik recently stated on his website, “I believe the process of educating the public is beneficial to many patients, and I am pleased to be part of an effort to reach them.” [author's note - Que? What? Is this Dr. Phil?] Where do I start respond to that statement? What process of education is he talking about?

Look, big pharma is not in the public health business, they are in business to sell drugs. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, and these guys are entitled to advertise and make money. But let’s keep honesty as a big part of the game…Consumers and marketers ought to demand it.

Oh and note to whoever makes that restless leg syndrome drug (see you haven’t advertised enough). My friends told about the upcoming restless leg syndrome epidemic. So I got worried the other day when I found my leg shaking a bit for no reason. So I ignored it, and it went away.

Whew, that was close!


By Abe Kasbo

This is the tale of 2 stores, or so it seems. The first has a first class integrated advertising campaign, both visually stunning and memorable campaigns across all media. The other isn’t quite that prolific with their advertising, it’s a bit more expensive and we get some direct mail from the place every once in a while. So when my wife and I needed some items last weekend, we decided to go to the former rather than the latter because of Cesar. Yes Cesar.

You see, brand recognition is no match for Cesar. And while Cesar laughs in the face of frequency and reach, because he can only help one customer at a time, Cesar prevails. Hail Cesar!!!

Cesar delivers excellent customer service, and time and again, he has delivered my business to his employer, Lord & Taylor in the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ. Yes, he’s a real person with a genuine approach to customer service that accompanies a winning smile.

At this store, Cesar is everywhere and in every department. While Cesar works in the men’s department, there’s a clone in every department. No matter when I go, day or night, sale or no sale, my experience with the people of this store has consistently been nothing short of excellent. And that’s what keeps me coming back. Talk about social marketing!

It is in the ability to replicate a great experience, through their people, that Lord & Taylor broke through my advertising obsessed biased. Consistent, excellent experiences at the store trumped any Madison Avenue cool, chic ad campaign…in my mind anyway.


By Abe Kasbo

What gives? While some outlets routinely provide make good for failing to reach guaranteed audience levels, The Tiffany Network is dolling out cash to the tune of $500,000 for each advertiser. This unprecedented move seems puzzling yet impressive.

While I’m still trying to make sense of this move, it makes me think about what newspapers have to say. Afterall, newspaper circulation is down significantly across the board. So why do their rates keep climbing?

It’s time for newspapers to adjust their ad prices to reflect dwindling circulation.


By Abe Kasbo:

We often advise our clients to strategically “own” media. In other words, develop a media plan within the overall marketing plan that allows enough frequency of your message in particular media to reach your audience. It’s also important to identify goals for each medium, for example: “call to action” in the papers, brand awareness for television, and brand interactivity for the web, etc.

Marketing and advertising media integration is the corner stone of media synergy. Media synergy allows your message and budget to work harder for you. Media syergy is the principle that allows different media outlets to work together in one campaign or several campaigns.

*Note – since this is a wide topic, I will write several pieces to address the issue, so be sure to come back.

But what if you’re invested in mediums in transition. OK, let’s stop beating around the bush – what I mean is, what if you’re investing in newspapers and radio. With these mediums are on the decline, what do you do?

That giant sucking sound you hear is indeed the Internet swooping away consumers from radio, newspapers, and even TV. Even so, my philosophy is that newspapers and radio are not going away. Newspapers may have wiped out the town crier, but radio did not kill newspapers when it was first introduced, and TV did not bury radio. And while the Internet is, to this point, a peerless medium, and will surely drive consolidation among regional newspapers and radio stations, but by-and-large newspapers and radio are here to stay.

So if you’re invested in these media, make sure that your message resonates. You may have a smaller audience pool for your message, that’s why the quality of you message is key in these unchartered waters. Also, consider offers and bounce your advertising message to another medium like the web or the phone. For example, if you have an offer in your magazine ad, drive response to the web or phone so you can measure better. Now, we’ve got two outlets working harder for you. And I am assuming your website is optimized to get even a larger bang.

In the meantime, consider negotiating harder with outlets in transition, they don’t want to loose your business.