Unique approach yields sales bonanza

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Traditional commercials may create the most buzz, but an unorthodox combination of 10-second promotional messages and 60-second direct-response spots may have been a better prescription for one small consumer healthcare company.

Last month, LecTec Corp. turned to the combination as it tried to raise awareness for its 18-month-old TheraPatch line of topical treatments. The company bought an array of 10-second messages during daytime syndicated shows such as "Sally Jessy Raphael" and ran 60-second direct response spots on syndicated shows such as "Jeopardy!" and "Home Improvement."

Creative is from Baldacci Productions, Fairlawn, N.J.

The push, specifically for TheraPatch Vapor for Kids cough suppressant, marked the first time the company had tried TV.

Though the budget was small, significantly under $1 million, the company attributed a significant sales jump to the program, which targeted women 25 to 49.

SALES SKYROCKET

Since the spots started airing, LecTec has seen drugstore sales of its cough suppressant increase 83%; sales via mass distributors such as Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart Corp. rise 90%; and hits on its Web site jump 632%, according to company Chairman-President-CEO Rodney Young.

This spring, the company plans to expand the strategy to its other TheraPatch-branded products, which include anti-itch and arthritis remedies.

The non-traditional buys allow LecTec to maximize its small budget.

"We would have gathered maybe 20% weight if we had to go to the general market," said Kal Liebowitz, president of KSL Media, which devised the media plan. "We wouldn't have had [enough] significant weight out there to impact sales."

NEW TO CONSUMER MARKETING

LecTec is a 22-year-old company, but until 11/2 years ago it was more a healthcare research company -- specializing in items such as electrodes for EEG exams -- than a consumer marketer.

Since then, it has shifted focus and worked to build distribution of its TheraPatch products, boosting distribution to 25,000 stores. So six months ago, with the encouragement of retailers, the marketer approached KSL about how best to move the product.

"It was time [to go on TV]," Mr. Young said. "The retailers were telling us it was time, and we knew if we advertised the product would move."

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