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By Published on .

Ciba-Geigy Corp. is more than doubling U.S. ad spending in 1996 for Program prescription flea control products and will launch similar campaigns internationally within the next year.

Program-the first veterinary pharmaceutical to be backed by national TV advertising-already has become the best-selling product in the history of animal health, said Stan Cruitt, director-marketing services for Ciba Animal Health. Sales exceeded published industry estimates of $139 million in 1995, he said, and are expected to double this year.


Ciba-Geigy is more than doubling its overall U.S. ad budget for Program, pegged by Competitive Media Reporting at $12.2 million in 1995, and is tripling TV spending for the campaign by New York agency Earle Palmer Brown.

And plans call for expanding the ad campaign to Europe, Japan, Australia and South Africa.

"Once the international management saw our success .*.*. they bought into it and asked us to present this approach to the other major countries where Ciba has animal health businesses," Mr. Cruitt said.

Program was originally introduced in Europe in '92, but Ciba Animal Health's U.S. division was the first to use extensive media ads for the brand. EPB will coordinate with foreign agencies the advertising in other countries.

The U.S. shop also will be involved in market research and possibly developing creative for international advertising, Mr. Cruitt said.


In the U.S., Ciba-Geigy has lengthened flights and increased gross rating points this year for Program's TV advertising, including buying time on NBC's Thursday prime-time lineup.

The campaign also includes print buys in women's magazines, a national public relations campaign and trade advertising and promotion for veterinarians.

Most flea control products are over-the-counter pesticide sprays, dips or collars that kill adult fleas and are sold through mass merchandise, grocery and pet specialty stores. Program is a Food & Drug Administration-approved drug prescribed by veterinarians, with separate versions for cats and dogs. Once ingested by pets, Program's active ingredient prevents fleas from reproducing.

Program's animated ads concentrate on the product's convenience; its safety for pets and humans compared with pesticide-based products; and the drug's availability exclusively through vets.

According to Ciba-Geigy's tracking research, Program already has 66% awareness among the 40% of U.S. households with dogs or cats.


Ciba-Geigy's marketing also is helping build distribution through veterinary offices. During the first year of Program ads in 1995, the percentage of flea control products purchased through vets rose from 15% to 40%, according to research for Ciba-Geigy by Burke Marketing Research. Consumer intentions indicate that number should rise to 60% by yearend.

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