AstraZeneca taps Epsilon for consumer efforts

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Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has expanded its long-running b-to-c marketing partnership with Epsilon to include efforts aimed directly at healthcare professionals.

Epsilon has been working with AstraZeneca on direct-to-consumer marketing, including e-mail and database efforts, since 2003. Now, the agency will use its database marketing, analytics and e-mail marketing capabilities to help AstraZeneca promote its top brands — including Nexium and Symbicort — to healthcare providers. The newly expanded partnership is expected to boost AstraZeneca's sales, support launches of new products and improve healthcare providers' knowledge of the products.

“Epsilon has been helping AstraZeneca connect with consumers for a number of years,” noted Lisa Henderson, SVP of client services at Epsilon. “This expansion is a natural step in our marketing partnership as the pharmaceutical industry looks to reach healthcare providers directly with valuable information.” Epsilon declined to comment further on this news, citing its client's wishes. AstraZeneca declined to comment.

The win signals Epsilon's growing strength in the pharma field. In June, the agency tapped Alex Kooluris as VP, general manager of Purple@Epsilon, with a particular focus on pharma clients. Kooluris had previously been with Saatchi and Saatchi and Glow Worm, where he worked on Johnson and Johnson and other marquee brands. Epsilon tapped another major healthcare talent, Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications' Andrew Bast, in March. Bast, who has experience working with clients like Nexium and Prilosec, became SVP, general manager at Purple@Epsilon, where he is responsible for healthcare clients.

“We continue to see significant multichannel marketing opportunities for the healthcare industry and to meet this growing demand Purple@Epsilon is adding new talent like Andrew Bast and now Alex Kooluris,” said David McRae, president, Purple@Epsilon, in a statement. “Our team understands the complexity of the industry and is well-positioned to meet the changing needs of clients to deliver marketing strategies that touch on a number channels, from direct marketing to advertising as well as interactive.”

AstraZeneca reported sales of $32 billion in 2008. The company's sales for the first quarter of 2009 were up by 7% over Q1 last year, to $7,701 million.

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