The device, called NuvaRing and available by prescription only, is a flexible, plastic ring that a woman inserts into her vagina once a month.
"It's so widely appealing because of its convenience," said David Stern, Organon's director of reproductive marketing. "It's tough in today's busy society to have to think about taking a pill every day. Women don't want to interrupt intimacy to put on a condom-they like the freedom of spontaneity in their relationships."
And that theme is dominant in the provocative campaign, which features couples in passionate situations and a tagline reading: "Now you can think about birth control just once a month. Instead of at times like this."
"It's informative and attention-getting ... a mature way of showing the importance of spontaneity," said Mel Sokotch, exec VP-director of consumer health care at Interpublic Group of Cos.' FCB Worldwide, New York, which devised the campaign and was careful to balance the need to grab attention with taste.
The campaign, which begins a yearlong run in magazines in September, is the first direct-to-consumer campaign for New Jersey-based Organon, a unit of Akzo Nobel, which has a well-respected portfolio of birth-control products. Since May, the company has promoted the device to physicians, hoping they would feel comfortable enough with it by the time the DTC effort-which targets women ages 25 to 34-launched.
"We feel this is a revolutionary product, so we wanted to go straight to the women and tell them about it," Mr. Stern said.
The media buy includes Hearst Magazines' Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire; Time Inc.'s People and In Style; Conde Nast Publications' Self and Modern Bride; and Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes and Gardens. Organon is still deciding whether to employ TV as well.
"One photograph tells the whole story with impact," Mr. Sokotch said. "We didn't need to buy 30 or 45 seconds of television time to deliver tremendous impact."
Impact is critical in the increasingly crowded $3.3 billion prescription birth-control category in the U.S. that includes pills, patches and injections-and since last month, NuvaRing, which emits pregnancy-blocking hormones. The category's most notable marketing has come from Johnson & Johnson division Ortho-McNeil, which has focused on the acne-reducing abilities of its birth-control pill Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Organon wouldn't release spending for the effort, but competitor J&J spent $53 million on its Ortho Tri-Cyclen effort in 2001, $10 million of which was spent in print, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.
"This isn't a new category-the Pill's been around for years," Mr. Sokotch said. "Our challenge was to break through the clutter and get the attention of the consumers and the doctors. If we didn't use DTC, we'd depend on the doctors exclusively, and they are exposed to so many products, so to get [their] attention would be more difficult than getting consumers' attention."