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Change is inevitable. Change is also difficult. But when AstraZeneca made the change in prescription heartburn medication from Prilosec to Nexium, the change to the "purple pill" made the competition black and blue.

Behind the efforts of Brand Manager Linda Palczuk, AstraZeneca has done a terrific job of switching users from Prilosec-which went over-the-counter in September-to Nexium. In 2001, Nexium generated $580 million in sales. In 2002, the product generated $1.98 billion in worldwide sales, and analysts expect it to reach $3.5 billion by 2006.

Moreover, AstraZeneca beat analysts' earning estimates in October with a 19% increase in third-quarter profit.

How did it happen? Good product, helped by heavy promotion and advertising. One can't help but see the advertising. Publicis Groupe's Klemtner Advertising, New York, handles those efforts, which include TV, print and online. Astra-Zeneca spent $198 million on direct-to-consumer campaigns in 2002, $192 million of it on Nexium.

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