Direct to Consumer: DTC Marketers Tune In - Pharmaceutical Executive


Direct to Consumer: DTC Marketers Tune In
As consumers watch and read less, radio advertising gets heard.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Although DTC marketers have not yet used this powerful selling opportunity, OTC marketers are experimenting with it. Procter & Gamble, for example, tested a live-read campaign for NyQuil in 2003, and the test's success prompted the company to launch a more extensive campaign this year. P&G also employed on-air talent to promote its ThermaCare heat-wrap product.

Fast production. With no elaborate sets or costumes needed, radio ads can be produced on the fly. That quick turn-around allows pharma marketers to capitalize on moving opportunities. For example, an allergy treatment manufacturer can present live copy on days when the pollen count is high, and a flu vaccine manufacturer can react quickly when an outbreak occurs.

Mobility. Unlike TV, radio's audience listens all day—in the car, on the way to work, at the office, and en route to the doctor or pharmacy. Its ability to follow increasingly mobile consumers throughout the day means radio is ubiquitous in a way no other medium can be, especially given the long hours many Americans spend in their cars. It also puts advertisers in a place where they have an opportunity to get in the last word before consumers make a purchasing decision.

Orchestrating the Mix The ever-changing media landscape dictates the use of multimedia platforms to maximize reach and impact. Indeed, as part of the mix, most pharma marketers see radio as a way to boost return on investment for big-budget media schedules. Crossmedia, a New York-based marketing agency specializing in media planning and buying, provided the following examples to illustrate this point:

(1) A company spending $10 million on a network TV advertising campaign, with an adult (25-54) target, will attain a reach (the percentage of people in the target group who saw the commercial at least once) of 78 percent. But by combining spot radio in the top 20 markets with network TV on a ratio of 20 percent radio and 80 percent TV, the advertiser's reach would increase to 85 percent in the top 20 markets. If the advertiser were to add print to the mix, with 60 percent of the budget going to TV, 20 percent to print, and 20 percent to spot radio, the reach increases to 93 percent in the top 20 markets.

(2) A company spending $10 million on a print campaign in magazines reaching the same 25-54 age target will garner a reach of 46 percent. By shifting 20 percent of the print budget to spot radio, the advertiser's reach grows to 64 percent.

Despite increasing fragmentation of media audiences, radio consumption is expected to continue to rise. And as long as pharma marketers aim to improve their DTC advertising return on investment and supplement the fall-off from network TV and print schedules, they will continue to turn their attention—and dollars—to this medium.

Stephen Friedman is VP of healthcare marketing for Interep Innovations Marketing Group. Contact him at (212) 896-8009 or


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