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The threat of killer bacteria has been in the news, and now it's in advertising.

Bayer Corp. is running an educational print campaign to draw attention to improper hand washing and the misuse of antibiotics.

A study by Wirthlin Worldwide found that almost one-third of people do not wash their hands after using the restroom although 94% in a telephone survey claimed they do.

"We decided there was a need to do more education and to take a leadership role," said a Bayer spokesman. "It sounds like something your mom told you and seems innocuous, but hand washing works."


The unusual $1 million consumer and physician-focused effort comes from Bayer's pharmaceutical division, which markets the antibiotic Cipro, with approximate annual sales of $700 million.

Ads from Chandler Chicco, New York, explaining "bacterial resistance" ran last week in The New York Times and USA Today, and a week earlier in The Wall Street Journal. The ads list an 800-number that consumers can call for further information.

The trade portion of the campaign will run through November in medical journals.

The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America has its own TV campaign, from Rob-inson Lerer Sawyer Miller, New York. Spots include one that focuses on a Pfizer researcher who develops new antibiotics for resistant bacterial strains.

Reckitt & Colman's Lysol disinfectant is on the air with a TV campaign created by Ammirati, Puris, Lintas, New York, that addresses germs and clean hands.

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