Ask Nick Online for Nicorette and NicoDerm Questions

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Smoking cessation products Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ next month will gain a new online mascot called Nick.

The cyber assistant will be a virtual representative that answers questions at, and from users of the GlaxoSmithKline brands.

"We want to improve our relationship with people who are visiting our sites and encourage them to stay on our sites longer than they have been and improve the stickiness," said Jeffrey Godish, director of e-marketing at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare L.P., Pittsburgh.

NicoDerm CQ is a nicotine patch, and Nicorette is a nicotine gum. Both products are among the leading brands in over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy.

Nick's character will be a 30-something man. Clicking on his icon will allow online visitors to the three GlaxoSmithKline sites to ask him questions, assuming that the company's disclaimer terms are accepted.

"This allows them to ask questions about NicoDerm or Nicorette or the Committed Quitters program on how to use the products and answer general questions," said Jeff Wengert, assistant brand manager for NicoDerm CQ.

The automated online personality also will help consumers navigate quickly through the sites, gain information on how to quit smoking and find out which products will help them in their quest.

"Our Internet strategy obviously is to increase the presence of NicoDerm CQ [and Nicorette] and hopefully convince consumers when they are choosing nicotine replacement therapy products that their preference would be for one of our branded products," Wengert said.

Nick's introduction is expected to lower GlaxoSmithKline's call center costs.

NativeMinds Inc., a San Francisco provider of automated, natural-language online customer service representatives, created Nick on the Internet. Nick first appeared offline as a cartoon character in the print version of the Nicorette user's guide.

Nick's debut marks a ramp-up in Internet activity for the NicoDerm CQ and Nicorette brands. Only three months ago, GlaxoSmithKline kicked off an affiliate program for the two brands.

The marketer has affiliated with a host of health-oriented, entertainment and retail sites. Affiliates earn up to 10 cents for every visitor who clicks through and registers for a $3 coupon at the two GlaxoSmithKline sites.

"They'll know their exact costs with this program," said Gordon Hoffstein, CEO of Be Free Inc., Marlborough, MA, which provided the affiliate marketing service.


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