FOR YEARS, PHARMACEUTICAL companies abided by stringent guidelines when marketing products directly to consumers—even describing the condition a drug was designed to treat was cost-prohibitive. However, in August of 1997, the Food and Drug Administration revised the rules. It wasn’t long before an evening of television was not complete without families frolicking free of nasal allergies, thirty-somethings rediscovering life after depression and Bob Dole telling the world how his marriage was reinvigorated. Good news for the pharmaceutical companies, but not for the promotional companies previously responsible for most of the industry’s advertising, right?
Wrong. A decade later, the pharmaceutical industry continues to grow at an astounding pace, and promotional products still play a key role in its success. In fact, television advertising has strengthened pharmaceutical branding in general, allowing promotional products to make even more of an impact on consumers. In the past, a drug’s name on the side of a pen only served to remind the average consumer that it was taken from the doctor’s office. Now, it’s another opportunity for positive brand reinforcement.
“Television has made formerly private topics more public, so advertisers aren’t as shy about promoting their pharmaceuticals,” said Shelley Sake, director of sales and marketing at Evans Manufacturing, Garden Grove, Calif. And, the timing couldn’t be better for pharmaceutical companies and those in the promotions industry. Baby boomers are reaching the age when pharmaceuticals begin to play a fundamental role in their daily life. “There has been a definite increased interest in promotional products as the pharmaceutical companies want to continue to reach consumers and get reminders in their hands,” Sake added.
As the “boomers” age, more chances to market to them will open, but traditional techniques will have to be reexamined. Historically, items such as pill boxes and bandage dispensers were designed to favor the white, antiseptic feel generally associated with hospitals. Sake noted the “boomers,” as well as future generations, want attractive health care accessories in warm, vibrant colors.