EVENTS & PROMOTIONS: MILITARY CHALLENGE SMITHKLINE READIES INT'L BILLIARDS CONTEST

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The military has become a hot spot for marketers of long-distance telephone service, computers and Internet services, as well as fast-food and package-goods products.

Now the pharmaceutical industry is also getting interested in the armed forces, which has announced several initiatives to improve its members' health.

SmithKline Beecham this year will significantly expand its marketing efforts targeting military personnel for its smoking cessation products including Nicorette gum and the NicoDerm CQ patch, where it sees significant growth potential.

"The military has announced its goal of becoming smoke-free by 2000, and we want to build on that initiative with grass-roots marketing," said Dan Campbell, a divisional sales manager overseeing military marketing efforts for SmithKline Beecham.

BILLIARDS CONTEST

To promote its smoking cessation products, the company will stage an international billiards competition this year, sponsored by Nicorette and Nicoderm. The competition is open to personnel in all branches of the military and culminates in cash prizes for individual and team winners.

Tested last year at 28 bases, the competition is being launched on a broader basis this year and will be promoted at more than 50 bases, including outposts in Europe and Asia. Umbrella Event Marketing, Carpinteria, Calif., coordinates.

BEGINNING IN OCTOBER

Promotion for the competition begins immediately, with on-base publicity, a video that will be circulated among bases and coverage of last year's tournament on the Armed Forces Service TV Network, which reaches military personnel at bases around the world.

The tournament, the "Nicorette/NicoDerm CQ 9 Ball Challenge," begins in October and runs through yearend; national finals are slated for January 1999.

"We decided to give non-advertising a try and it's proving to be pretty effective in reaching prospective users on a one-on-one basis," Mr. Campbell said.

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