Friday, May 05, 2006

Got a Second? G.E. Has a Quick Message

Got a Second? G.E. Has a Quick Message


DECADES ago, General Electric and its agency, BBDO Worldwide, joined to create a half-hour weekly television series, "General Electric Theater." Now, in a move that underlines how giant marketers are seeking new ways to reach consumers, G.E., BBDO and two other agencies are introducing an elaborate campaign centered on a version of the series that is 1,799 seconds shorter than the original.

"G.E. One Second Theater," as the campaign is being called, presents a humorous peek behind the scenes at recent General Electric commercials produced by BBDO. The campaign is intended specifically for new media like digital video recorders, which can be used to watch expanded versions of the spots, and the MySpace social networking service (, where visitors can read a mock profile of Elli, the elephant star of one of the commercials. The spots will also be accessible on MP3 players, through podcasts presented as if they were recorded by Elli and other characters from the spots, and on a microsite ( , which offers an online version of the campaign.

The multimillion-dollar campaign, scheduled to begin today, is the most recent effort by G.E. to explore media beyond conventional commercials and print advertisements.

Previous initiatives include a campaign about a virtual sprouting seed, which computer users could tend and send to friends by e-mail, and banner ads offering a way to doodle online.

"We're harkening back to an old idea, in combination with new technology," said David Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer for the North American operations of BBDO, part of the Omnicom Group. "General Electric Theater" appeared on CBS from February 1953 to September 1962 and the host for all but the first year was an actor named Ronald Reagan.

Whatever became of him?

The General Electric Company is among marketers devoting a growing part of ad budgets to new media. Hewlett-Packard, for instance, announced yesterday that it would team up with the mtvU cable network owned by Viacom for a worldwide campaign aimed at college students, carrying the theme "Meet or Delete," which will be found on television, online and on cellphones.

Also, the Adidas unit of Adidas-Salomon has started releasing a series of short films by directors like Roman Coppola, which can be watched on hand-held devices or on Web sites like, and, and can be downloaded from the Apple Computer iTunes store ( And Wendy's International created a MySpace profile for an animated character based on its square hamburger, which also had its own Web site.

"It's a challenge whenever you try to do something new, but it's energizing," said Judy L. Hu, global executive director for advertising and branding at General Electric in Fairfield, Conn. She and BBDO executives offered a preview of the One-Second Theater campaign in an interview at the agency's Midtown Manhattan office.

"Clearly, we're taking a risk," Ms. Hu said, "but that's what you need to do to break through."

"Everything we do that's inventive and innovative helps drive the idea of 'Imagination at work,' " she added, which has been the theme of General Electric campaigns created by BBDO since 2003.

Here is how the extended versions of the commercials work. BBDO has re-edited several spots to embed in each one additional material, which can be glimpsed only for a second if the spots are being watched live on TV. But for viewers using TiVo or other digital video recorders, the commercials can be paused and the new material becomes accessible to watch frame by frame.

The material includes mock biographies of Elli, a dancing elephant, and the other animal characters from a G.E. commercial promoting its environmental efforts under the "ecomagination" theme, along with fake "lost casting tapes" in which creatures like a shark, a cow and an armadillo flunk their auditions for the spot.

"It was hard to imagine Elli ever recovering from the teenage exploitation film 'Don't Touch That Trunk' and the well-publicized 'peanut' scandal," one make-believe biography begins. "As for the future, look for her in the summer blockbuster studio romance 'Love of the Mastodon.' "

In the "Elli's interests" section of the elephant's MySpace profile, her favorite music is listed as "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac and her movies are "Animal House" and "Dumbo." As of yesterday afternoon, Elli already had five friends on her MySpace page (

In another imaginary biography, a toucan that appears in Elli's commercial is described as the star of "the musical 'I Am Toucan' and its sequel, 'I Am Still Toucan.' " And two flamingos from the commercial are described as "self-taught method actors" that appeared in carnival sideshows "as 'The Amazing Two-Headed Flamingo' until their act was exposed on the cable special 'Fake Two-Headed Animal Acts Exposed.' "

Plans call for the additional material to be replaced on a regular basis, said Don Schneider, executive vice president and executive creative director at BBDO New York, "so viewers will always be expecting there could be something new embedded" each time they see a G.E. commercial.

The re-edited commercials will appear on networks that are part of the NBC Universal division of General Electric, including Bravo, CBNC, MSNBC, NBC, Sci Fi and USA.

They will also run on networks not owned by G.E., Ms. Hu said, including A&E, Comedy Central, Discovery, E!, ESPN, the Food Network, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, TBS, TLC and the Travel Channel.

To help generate awareness for the One-Second Theater campaign, Ms. Hu said, it will be promoted in announcements during TV series sponsored by General Electric and in comic "teaser" banner ads on Web sites like as well as the sites of print publications like The Hollywood Reporter ( and Variety (

The agencies working on the campaign in addition to BBDO are Blitz, an interactive agency in Beverly Hills, Calif., and OMD, a media planning and buying agency that is also part of Omnicom.


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The DTC National Report

The DTC National Report

For those of you who could not attend our DTC National in Washington last week, I wanted to give you my observations about trends and issues raised at the meeting. Based on attendance, it appears that despite flat media spending, the interest in DTC issues has never been stronger. There were over 600 delegates, about 50% more than last year.

Regarding legislative and regulatory issues the attendees were given some strong warnings from industry legislative guru Jim Davidson. There are numerous potential regulations being discussed in Congress that could restrict DTC advertising. Passage depends largely on who controls Congress, with Democrats more likely to push for DTC restrictions. Davidson felt that some restrictive legislation could affect the industry in the next session, as early as 2007, whether or not the Democrats re-take Congress.

Ralph Nader was Ralph Nader. DTC is bad. Nothing the industry has done recently in terms of the PhRMA code and new style sober creative could convince him otherwise. What was interesting was that Ralph had not seen any of the new style commercials nor did he see the last three FDA DTC studies which refuted much of his concerns. Ralph, although using out of date information does reflect the opinion of many skeptical Americans about drug company advertising. He did not call for a DTC ban, but Ralph would like all advertising to include about 200 pages of risk information. Television appears to be ok with Ralph as long as we can run a two hour commercial, one minute benefit, the rest risk. He did not say that, and I am exaggerating but maybe a 10 minute ad.

Our market research presentations indicated that DTC ads still produce an ROI of over 2 to 1 based on about 70 case studies in IMS's database. Disease education ads also produce a positive ROI according to another IMS study. Clear risk information actually enhances rather than discourages consumer interest in asking their doctor for further information, said Millward Brown. AstraZeneca's Don Apruzzese provided results on a study which also showed that quality risk information is welcomed by consumers.

Our celebrity advertising presenter, Ad Age's Bob Garfield, said we will see the death of television ads as we know it, and sooner than we think. He did admit that the older drug industry target audience will be slower to abandon television so we have some time to develop alternatives. He predicts a period of chaos once television collapses as a preferred ad medium. Our audience did not buy into the imminent death of television, but Bob's presentation did make the attendees think that maybe we should be accelerating our alternate media testing.

Most inspiring was former Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson, who actually likes what we do. No surprise since he is a business friendly Republican, but after Nader bashed us, it was nice to hear we actually do good work. Thompson did ask us to work much more on disease prevention rather than disease cure because 95% of our health care expenses are for cures and only 5% prevention. This speaks to our need to encourage persistence and compliance through increased DTC efforts.

A very interesting trend is the increase in disease education and corporate PR to counter negative images. Len Tacconi of Merck shared the rationale behind Merck's corporate campaign and showed that it significantly increased Merck's consumer image scores after only six months.

What was really nice about this meeting was that 600 people gathered in a collegial setting to have a serious discussion about how we can improve our DTC. We treated differing points of view from Nader and several other critics with respect. Our attendees know that only by hearing the real views of our critics can we address them. Thank you to all who attended and presented for making this meeting a great success.

Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Study: Users Selectively Look To Web For Health Info

Study: Users Selectively Look To Web For Health Info

More people find the Internet a useful source of health and medical information now than in the past, but the Web appears to have gained more ground in other areas of people's lives, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

A December 2005 Pew survey of 1,931 adult Internet users found that 20 percent of online Americans said the Internet has greatly improved how they get health care information. But the same survey found that 32 percent of Americans said the Internet has greatly improved their ability to shop, 33 percent said the Internet has vastly improved how they pursue hobbies and interests, and 35 percent reported that the Web has greatly helped them do their job.

"So what's going on here?" asks the report. "Does the Internet matter less for health than it does for finding that one-of-a-kind iPod case you've been hunting for?"

The answer turns out to be more complicated--and to depend, on large part, on timing. Researchers proposed that the Web will be a more important source of health care information to those facing a health crisis themselves, or helping someone else through one, than the public at large.

More than one in three--36 percent--of the respondents that had helped someone else through a health crisis, and that thought the Internet played a critical role in the crisis, reported that the Web helped them find advice or support from other people. Thirty-four percent said the Web helped them find professional advice, and 26 percent said the Internet helped them compare options.

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FM Publishing Opens Automated Ad Network

FM Publishing Opens Automated Ad Network
by Gavin O'Malley, Thursday, May 4, 2006 6:00 AM EST
THE HIGH-END BLOG ADVERTISING NETWORK Federated Media Publishing launched an automated ad planning site late Wednesday. The brainchild of entrepreneur and author John Battelle, the site's simple interface helps the least experienced advertisers find the most appropriate blogs on which to place their ads after inputting targeting data such as age, sex, income, and lifestyle.

"It's a good analogy, comparing the site to a dating service for advertisers and bloggers," said Battelle.

Like a dating site--and unlike many online ad networks that currently exist--FM Publishing's automated platform requires consent from both parties, as bloggers can turn down offers from interested advertisers. "We find it's very rare for a blogger to say no to an advertiser in our experience, but it's important that everyone's comfortable with these relationships."

Battelle, known for founding The Industry Standard and serving as co-founding editor for Wired magazine, has said since last June that FM is strictly for "high-quality, high-authority" blogs. That now includes about 50 total, according to Battelle--including his own search blog, the hugely popular general interest blog Boing Boing, and Jeff Jarvis' influential BuzzMachine blog.

"It's not about size--it's about the quality of the conversation," Battelle said of his preference for one blog over another. "Jarvis' BuzzMachine doesn't get a huge amount of traffic--but his readers are very influential, and an attractive audience for any advertiser."

Despite the new site's automated nature, Battelle promises that every one of FM's blogger and advertiser partners have access to as much human interaction as they like.

"That's why we're never going to be 5,000 sites," said Battelle. "The biggest I think we could ever be is 500, because of the close relationships we offer our partners."

FM Publishing's sales team is currently five members strong, and Battelle said he is looking for about eight more members.

Individual bloggers within FM's network are free to join other networks like BlogAds, and own the intellectual property rights to their work, according to Battelle.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Healthcare Advertising Faces Upheaval with Small Share of Total Online Spend

Healthcare Advertising Faces Upheaval with Small Share of Total Online Spend, Yet Fastest Rate of Growth, According to New Outsell Report

Analysts Issue the Industry’s First Study to Compare and Analyze Spending Among Business, Healthcare and Consumer Advertisers


Outsell, Inc., the leading research and advisory firm for the information industry, has released its “Annual Ad Spending Study 2006: Business, Healthcare and Consumer Advertisers.” The study is the first in the information industry to reveal detailed trends about advertisers within these three distinct segments. This is the second report in Outsell’s Ad Spending Study Series and analyzes results of a Web-based survey Outsell fielded to 1,214 advertisers in November 2005.

The report reveals “where, why and how fast” business, healthcare and consumer advertisers are moving online, as well as the impacts of these shifts on print ads, events, and TV/radio. It is the first to make sector-by-sector comparisons of adoption rates for online advertising, budget allocations, and even the effectiveness of Google versus Yahoo! versus MSN. The Outsell research also includes a list of essential actions for companies wanting to navigate the changing advertising marketplace.


-     Total healthcare sector is facing the largest upheaval, with the lowest share of online spending but the fastest-growing rate for online advertising, search engines, Webinars, sponsored online content, and e-mail marketing combined.         

-     Total online ad spending will grow 18.8 percent in 2006, eight times faster than TV/radio and six times faster than print. Outsell estimates that online ad spending growth in business and healthcare will continue near 20 percent through 2008 and will remain higher than consumer markets. Consumer markets were early adopters of online ads, so they have already reached 20.4 percent of total spending, twice the 10 percent online share for healthcare.

-          Search engine spending, set to rise 26.3 percent in 2006, is the fastest growing of all major marketing methods. Healthcare search-based ad spending is the runaway growth leader at 66.1 percent.

-   Webinars and lead-generation using sponsored content are also surging, with healthcare again growing twice as fast as other markets. 


Journalists who would like to talk with Outsell about the report should contact Dawn Ringel, Warner Communications, 781-449-8456 or  

Companies that would like to purchase this report should go to or contact Outsell directly at 650-342-6060 or


Outsell, Inc. of Burlingame, CA is the leading research and advisory firm providing actionable market analytics for the information industry. Founded in1994, Outsell helps publishers, commercial information providers, and content software technology vendors identify, maintain, and grow markets and revenue streams. Outsell also works with information management executives in top corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions to benchmark spending, optimize performance, and demonstrate best practices. Outsell invests heavily in unique information industry data assets that form the core of its high-quality, fact-based research, analysis, and recommendations for clients worldwide. For more information, see


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Broadband Channel For Horseback Riders Debuts

Broadband Channel For Horseback Riders Debuts
Wednesday, May 3, 2006 6:00 AM EST
ANOTHER NICHE BROADBAND SITE, THIS one focused on traveling by horseback, has debuted. At launch, the site,, offered visitors about half a dozen short video clips, in addition to photos and text-based articles. Equitrekking, which plans to add one new video clip a week, eventually intends to support the content with ads, said Chip Ward, managing principal of DCN Creative, the parent company of Equitrekking. The company also has a deal with PBS to create a series of 30-minute episodes, three of which have already been filmed. Later this year, at least one of those episodes will be available for download--either for a fee or supported by advertising, said Ward. Broadband video company Brightcove is providing the technology for the site.
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pre-Launch Internet Buzz For New Drugs Can Lead to Greater Online Awareness

Pre-Launch Internet Buzz For New Drugs Can Lead to Greater Online Awareness, Nielsen BuzzMetrics Finds

NEW YORK (May 2, 2006) ? New drugs that create even small amounts of online discussion among consumers before they're approved by federal regulators often enjoy greater awareness and online "buzz" after they have been released to the market, according to an analysis by Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

By tracking pre-and post-approval buzz of four new drugs, Nielsen BuzzMetrics' Healthcare Practice found that new drug therapies that generated even small amounts of pre-approval buzz enjoyed a comparatively large and sustained increase in discussion among relevant communities once the drugs were approved for use among the general population.

In the cases examined, this phenomenon held true for drugs whose therapeutic value is not considered a great improvement over existing drugs for the same illnesses.

"Brands that achieve preliminary buzz in relevant online communities tend to achieve greater momentum once the drug is approved," said Lydia Worthington, Vice President of Client Services and Healthcare Practice Leader for Nielsen BuzzMetrics, and chief author of the study.  "While there are many factors that ultimately influence overall buzz and engagement, pharmaceutical marketers would be wise to consider investing in pre-launch initiatives that get patients talking and consequently primed for post-approval launch and marketing activities."

Nielsen BuzzMetrics, the global measurement standard for consumer-generated media, helps companies promote and protect their brands by analyzing word-of-mouth behavior in online consumer discussions, boards, forums, Usenet newsgroups, review sites, blogs and other data sources.

"However, early buzz is not a risk-free proposition," Worthington said. "Even small amounts of negative buzz or consumer concern can travel quickly across the Internet, where they can influence the marketplace and regulators, in some cases leading to drug-approval delays and requests for more testing."

For this study, Nielsen BuzzMetrics collected, measured and analyzed thousands of word-of-mouth discussions in online patient communities about four drugs. Discussions were monitored for six months before FDA approval and four months afterward. The drugs were Abraxane and Tarceva, both cancer-fighting drugs; Tysabri, for treating multiple sclerosis (voluntarily suspended from the market in October 2005 to undergo further study), and Byetta, a drug that controls blood sugar levels.

Key Findings:

·         Abraxane, a promising breast cancer drug with fewer side effects than existing treatments, captured less than 2% of online buzz for one month before approval and rose to only 4% of online discussion four months after approval.

·         By comparison, Tarceva, a second- or third-tier lung cancer treatment for patients in whom chemotherapy has not worked, captured sustained 2% discussion levels for six months leading up to approval and jumped to 16% levels of online awareness in the four months after approval.

·         Discussion about Byetta was less than 1% in the pre-approval phase and rose to only 4% of all online discussion three months after approval.

·         Discussion about Tysabri, a promising MS drug, jumped from 4% six months before approval to nearly 15% immediately before approval, and was on its way to 20% discussion levels post-approval before it was pulled from the market.

Worthington pointed out that buzz about the promising drugs Abraxane and Byetta was overshadowed by simultaneously occurring online discussions about competing treatments.  

About Nielsen BuzzMetrics

The Nielsen BuzzMetrics service, marketed by BuzzMetrics, Inc., is the global standard in measuring consumer-generated media and word of mouth. Nielsen BuzzMetrics helps more than 100 leading global companies strategically leverage the buzz surrounding them—clients like Canon, Comcast, Ford, General Motors, HBO, Kraft, Microsoft, Nokia, P&G, Sony, Target and Toyota, as well as 14 of the top 15 pharmaceutical concerns. Partners include the world's largest marketing-services firms, and innovative new-marketing agencies. The company has also collaborated with distinguished research organizations such as the Pew Internet and American Life Project. BuzzMetrics, Inc. is an affiliate of VNU, owner of such renowned research names as ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research. For more information, visit


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Monday, May 01, 2006

GSK Web site encourages dieters to learn and interact online

GSK Web site encourages dieters to learn and interact online


Embracing user generated online content, GlaxoSmithKline has started a Web site for dieters, even before its OTC version of the weight loss drug Xenical hits shelves, reports The New York Times. The site,, lets dieters learn about weight loss and participate in online discussions with other dieters. Topics include diet pills, working out, fad diets, dealing with stress, yo-yo diets, and exercise. There are already hundreds of posts about the topics. Users can also play an interactive game that encourages healthy eating. Ads for Xenical's OTC version, Alli, will clearly warn users about the drug's side effects and will emphasize discipline, not food deprivation, according to the Times.


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