Most flea control products are over-the-counter pesticides that kill adult fleas. Program is a prescription medication for dogs and cats that prevents fleas from reproducing.
"We knew if we were going to make a large success out of this, we had to reach the mass population of pet owners and get them to go into the vet clinic," says Stan Cruitt, director-marketing services.
Backed by nationwide TV advertising from Earle Palmer Brown, New York, Program has done just that. Ciba's tracking research shows the brand now has a 66% awareness level among dog and cat owners, and it's become the best-selling product in the history of animal health, Mr. Cruitt says.
Mr. Cruitt, 46, who has worked in marketing for agricultural or animal health products for more than two decades, credits extensive consumer concept testing both of the product and its advertising.
Consumer research by Ciba and EPB identified convenience of use and improved safety from reduction in pesticide usage as Program's unique selling points. EPB's animated TV and print campaign drove the points home.
Emboldened by 1995 results, Ciba this year is more than doubling last year's ad spending, which Competitive Media Reporting says was $12 million.