Forecast Is Purple at AccuWeather.com

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AstraZeneca will splash the color purple on parts of AccuWeather.com as part of a multichannel campaign promoting Nexium, a heartburn medicine prescribed for treating acid-reflex disease.


In a unique partnership, the pharmaceutical giant will take over the local forecast page of AccuWeather.com once weekly and turn it purple in the Nexium colors. This is part of an eight-week branding and sampling exercise created by AstraZeneca online agency Avenue A, New York.


"We find that the weather venue seems to work very well," said Jean Pundiak, Frazer, PA-based e-marketing manager at AstraZeneca. "The audience seems to be very receptive to our messages."


All the surrounding ads in pixel sizes 34-by-60, 468-by-60 and 300-by-250 will be Nexium's. There will be text links to Nexium drug information and a link asking site visitors, "Why is this page purple?" Clicking on the link takes visitors to the Nexium site at purplepill.com.


The effort begins this month.


"What it does is makes the Nexium brand stand out," said Jim Candor, senior vice president of AccuWeather.com, State College, PA.


The local forecast page is the most visited section on AccuWeather.com. Company estimates put monthly traffic at 4 million to 5 million unique users, and upward of 70 million page views a month. AccuWeather.com is the No. 2 weather property after The Weather Channel's weather.com, Atlanta.


The local forecast page will turn purple only once a week, focusing on weekdays.


"We're trying to be very careful not to saturate the user, but also to get enough of a message across to them so that the branding impacts them," said Dave Wrieden, director of sales at AccuWeather.com.


Flexibility is built in if the weather changes dramatically, causing viewers to flock online.


"We're also attempting to pay attention to the weather, and if there's any big storm forecasted for a large area of the country, we may seize the day," said Tracy Ondo, regional sales manager at AccuWeather.com.


The call to action goes beyond branding. At the Nexium site, consumers can register for a free, weeklong trial of the drug via an online coupon. After getting a prescription from their physician, they can take the printed coupon to a drugstore for seven free capsules of Nexium.


Sampling is at the core of this effort. As the second-generation drug to AstraZeneca's Prilosec, Nexium competes not only with its predecessor, but also rivals like Prevacid, Aciphex and Protonix. Nexium was launched 1 1/2 years ago.


AstraZeneca said an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population has symptoms of acid-reflex disease. It is this market, particularly men and women ages 35 to 60, the company is targeting.


The AccuWeather deal is one of many offline and online marketing tactics for Nexium. AstraZeneca is running a brand and direct response television, print, radio and direct mail campaign.


Online, it is engaged in keyword buys on a cost-per-click basis, sponsorships, larger ad units like Shoshkeles, eyeblaster interactive ads and Unicast Superstitials to repurpose TV creative online.


The local forecast page takeover is not the first time AstraZeneca has worked with AccuWeather. In the fourth quarter of 2002, it ran Shoshkeles that performed well. Plans for this quarter include rich media executions and larger ads that let visitors register within the unit so as not to move off that site.


"If this particular purple page takeover works well, we'll certainly think about the interesting kind of things we might do with AccuWeather in the future," Pundiak said.


"These are the kinds of things we do in general with our Nexium online campaign," she said. "We really are looking for very creative units, very creative ways of working with publisher sites to provide information and messages to their audience as well as to drive direct response."


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