Glucose test gets ad push

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Riding the coattails of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications, Roche Diagnostics this week breaks its first-ever consumer campaign.

The $40 million integrated effort was created by four allied Omnicom Group shops, and highlights a product improvement for the company's Accu-Chek Compact glucose monitor used by those suffering from diabetes. The monitor, also known as a glucometer, allows diabetics to track their blood-sugar levels.

This latest version of the Accu-Chek product features a drum of 17 test strips loaded into the monitor much like a roll of film. It allows the user to stop fumbling with several different aspects of testing-using a lancet to prick his or her finger, putting a drop of blood on the test strip and then inserting the strip into the monitor each time.

The division of Swiss pharmaceutical marketer Roche Group conducted more than three years of testing to try and separate itself from the pack, which includes Johnson & Johnson's Life Scan monitor.

"We found that the average customer is 65 and female, and maybe single-loading a test strip every time you test wasn't the easiest thing," said Don Dumoulin, VP-sales and marketing for Roche. "We were looking for a breakthrough piece of technology."

When they found it and patented it, they then looked for a breakthrough way to market it. Initially, Mr. Dumoulin was wary of an integrated campaign, saying, "My biggest pain factor as a client in having multiple agencies do multiple things is we never got that consistency. Trying to get a singular message across the board is difficult."

team effort

But he was pleased with what four Omnicom shops, all located in Chicago, did. BBDO Worldwide handled consumer creative; Corbett is marketing to health-care professionals; Footsteps handles multicultural marketing efforts; and Porter Novelli handles public relations.

"To make it seamless, the first thing you have to have is a client committed to integration," said Anne Dooley, BBDO Chicago's exec VP-client services. "Not only was Don committed to this, but we were given a better product that redefined the category."

The campaign includes consumer print ads, medical journal ads and online but is heavy on TV spending. The first spot features a woman sitting on the couch, with her husband sleeping on her shoulder, her son asleep on the other side and a dog sleeping on her feet. She calmly and effortlessly reaches over to grab her Accu-Chek monitor and test her blood sugar.

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