Compass deemed sponge-worthy

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Compass Healthcare Communications was recently named the Internet agency of record for Synova Healthcare's Today Sponge and Fem-V.

The Today Sponge reached pop culture fame when it was featured on an episode of Seinfeld in the 1990s.

Compass specializes in health products, but the Today Sponge and Fem-V will mark the agency's first foray into marketing over-the-counter goods. Most of Compass' clients are prescription brands from Abbott Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Santarus Inc., among others.

"From a strategic point of view [working with an OTC product] doesn't change a lot because we still approach it the same way - who is the target, what are their behaviors online, what are they looking for, where are they and how do we reach them," Peter H. Nalen, president and CEO of Compass said. "It's just a little bit different because there actually is a hard conversion that happens on the Web site, which is the purchase of the Sponge. While the pieces are the same, the things we're measuring are much closer to the end goal, so it's much more precise."

The Sponge site features an online shopping cart, allowing visitors to buy the product directly. Compass will be measuring online sales and visits to conversion pages, such as store locators, among other analytics.

Compass will work closely with Dudnyk, the offline advertising agency for the Today Sponge, and with Synova PR agency Dorland Global Public Relations.

"Anything that happens outside the Internet generally ends up, hopefully, driving people to the Internet because, whether it's a print ad with a special Web address or a press release with an online version that links to the site, they all work very closely together to make sure the program is integrated," Nalen said.

"Given that healthcare is the No. 2 sought-after information on the Internet and the net is the No. 1 place people go for healthcare information, you have to make sure that everything you do online is the same as offline," he said.

For now, Compass will focus on building the new sites. The next step will involve online advertising and promotion, including paid search campaigns, banners, e-mails and CRM programs. The agency will also be using direct mail campaigns.

The Today Sponge is looking to woo a new generation of women with an updated product look and interactive Web site. The recently unveiled site uses the tag-line "Today's Women" to sell the 24-hour contraceptive device. It offers profiles of potential Sponge users and reproductive health tips.

Compass is also developing a site for infection test kit Fem-V and will re-design the Synova corporate site in 2008.

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