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LISA MASON SOMINEX

By Published on .

Lisa Mason has lain awake at night thinking about Sominex sleep aids.

But as the director of marketing for SmithKline Beecham's Three Rivers Group, the executive does less of that these days.

Ms. Mason was responsible for an unusual infomercial that has won widespread praise for its originality and creativity.

"Cable Snooze Network's The Good Night Show" aired last October and November in 30-minute and two-minute versions in select cities.

Created by Mouncey Ferguson & Associates, Leesburg, Va., the show used "Saturday Night Live"-style sketches and a toll-free telephone number to involve viewers.

"It was a really different approach and we learned a lot," Ms. Mason says. "The Three Rivers Group was created to find fresh ways to market some of our established mid-sized brands. It gave us a great opportunity to go with unusual new ideas."

SmithKline Beecham will continue the tests this year and may even expand the infomercial concept to some of its other brands, including Geritol iron supplement and Citrucel laxative.

The infomercial was effective in reaching new users, a must for the embattled sleep-aids category. Only 10% of U.S. households buy the products, a small percentage of the estimated 40 million Americans who suffer from insomnia.

"We're trying to turn the product's image on its ear," Ms. Mason says. "There is still a Marilyn Monroe pill-popping stigma about sleeping pills, and that's why we're willing to try a different marketing approach."

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