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Medco launches multimillion-dollar consumer campaign

Medco Health Solutions is rolling out a multimillion-dollar integrated campaign to promote its Medco Pharmacy brand to consumers and bolster its prescription sales. The New Jersey-based healthcare company helps employers, both private companies and the government, provide mail-in and e-pharmacy options to their employees.

Although the company was already providing pharmacy services, it primarily marketed those to its client partners, insurers and employers, so this marks a decided move into consumer marketing for the b-to-b marketer. The marketing turn coincides with Medco’s addition of new options for consumers, including those outside of the network. For example, in 2009, it launched the online Medco Health Store which sells non-prescription items like pain reliever and vitamins. This component is now part of the new Medco Pharmacy brand.

“Medco Pharmacy has never been formally introduced to the consumer,” said Jay Silverstein, Medco’s chief branding officer and senior VP. “In effect, it’s a repositioning of our mail service and integrating it with a host of other offerings.”

A testing phase of the campaign began rolling out in late May in limited markets, including DRTV ads that ran in midwest and southern US markets. The ads and the bulk of the campaign were created by OgilvyOne, Medco’s agency of record. The material takes a humorous approach to the campaign’s overall message that Medco Pharmacy might be able to help them save up to $308 per year. It uses a faux doctor known as “Dr. Obvious,” as the spokesman, as in, “It’s obvious that everyone wants to save money, not throw it away.”

“If you’re going to change the status quo, you’re going to use fear or humor, and fear doesn’t work in this category,” noted Silverstein on the approach to the creative components.

The DRTV call to action encourages viewers to call a 1-877 number or log on to the campaign’s new microsite, Medcopharmacy.com. The cartoony Dr. Obvious actor, who appears throughout the campaign, refers to it as the “The Obvious Two-step Program.” Online, consumers can enter their e-mail address to gain more information about the potential savings and obtain a $10 coupon.

EchoDitto, a social media agency, is assisting with the social media campaign, which includes a dedicated Dr. Obvious Twitter, YouTube and Facebook sites. Medco will also test radio ads, some print and online ads, and due to the nature of its business, is already doing “an enormous amount of e-mail and direct mail,” Silverstein said. An in-house team handles the e-mail campaign, which is targeted only to those Medco members whom have opted-in to such communications. Silverstein declined to disclose the total number of mailings or e-mails, but noted about 65 million people are eligible Medco members.

The multimillion-dollar campaign has no end-date, but will instead mark the “start of something that we will do continually,” said Silverstein. At completion of the current 90-day testing phase, Medco will reevaluate how well consumers are reacting to its messages on both a brand awareness level and an action level before tweaking final messaging.

Medco operates nine mail-order pharmacies and six call center pharmacies. In  2009, it reported dispensing 103 million prescriptions through Medco Pharmacy, including 1.5 million new prescriptions through its e-commerce site.

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