Eli Lilly Will Tap Web for Evista Leads

Eli Lilly and Co. for the first time will use the Internet to generate leads for its Evista prescription medication, which targets post-menopausal women.

The pharmaceutical giant's aboutbone.com site is a key part of an integrated patient relationship campaign breaking Monday to promote Evista's use for preventing or treating osteoporosis, or loss of bone density, in women older than 50.

Consumers who visit aboutbone.com are told that taking calcium to maintain healthy bones is not enough. They are asked to request a free copy of a specially prepared booklet, “Osteoporosis: Could You Be At Risk?”

“The Internet strategy is one of instant gratification,” said Jon Roska, chief creative officer of Roska Direct, the Montgomeryville, PA, direct marketing agency handling the Evista patient relationship campaign.

To get the booklet, aboutbone.com visitors volunteer name and contact details, whether the woman has had a period in the past 12 months and whether she is taking any hormone replacement therapy and, if yes, for how long.

More importantly, the consumer is asked whether she is taking any prescription medication for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis and, if yes, which brand.

Linking to aboutbone.com are banner advertisements on Yahoo, MSN, MSNBC, AOL and iVillage-owned Women.com and the sites of Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal.

The Web effort is supported by magazine print ads in Good Housekeeping, Cooking Light, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day and Family Circle. In three variants, the double-spread ads with a bound-in response card mention the aboutbone.com address and an 800 number. The message will be reinforced by targeted direct mail to names on rented lists and take-home materials in doctors' offices.

The booklet offers steps to ensure the strength of bones. It is written in the manner of a woman-to-woman conversation, and not corporation to consumer.

To snag the Evista business, Roska Direct competed with DraftWorldwide, Wunderman and Rapp Collins Worldwide, all leading direct marketing agencies. A 20-year-old agency, Roska Direct serves other pharmaceutical accounts like Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

“I think the big thing is that even though women are aware of osteoporosis, they don't perceive it as a threat to themselves; it's always everybody else,” Roska said. “So what's important in the program we've developed is to create this communication that's educating them on a personal basis, not a group basis. In other words, we're not saying to that woman, 'Oh, women are in danger.' You have to say, 'You're in danger.'”

Lilly in Indianapolis declined to comment.

Evista is one of the top-selling, high-margin brands for Lilly. First-quarter 2001 sales for Evista were $149 million, up 48 percent from the comparable quarter last year. U.S. sales were $120.3 million, up 44 percent, while overseas sales were $28.8 million, up 67 percent.

Overall, Lilly reported 2000 sales of $2.8 billion, up 14 percent.

The campaign marks a ramp-up in Internet activity for Lilly. It comes two weeks after Lilly announced the debut of InnoCentive LLC, its first venture to use the Internet for creating open-source drug research and development. The marketer's e.Lilly venture capital arm seeded InnoCentive.

InnoCentive invites companies to post scientific problems on innocentive.com. Consumers are offered cash incentives by the seeker company for the most innovative solution that can be reproduced in a laboratory.

As with most pharmaceutical marketing, especially for prescription drugs, the goal is to influence doctors.

“In addition to the booklet, what we do is we also supply the respondents with a certificate that's good for a free 30-day trial of Evista if the doctor prescribes,” Roska said. “The real goal is to drive the person back to their doctor to discuss.”

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