Tuesday, May 26, 2009

3-1-1 > 0?

Many months ago, I wrote a post about a series of ads for medical devices, wondering "Is this ad effective?" It is time to ask the question again.

Going through the airport's security system the other day, I noticed this handy bag being offered as part of the TSA 3-1-1 program. A nice convenience, I thought, for those who had forgotten to separate their small vials of liquids.

But then I noticed that the bag was an ad from Johnson & Johnson for an atrial fibrillation (AF) catheter. I have no doubt this is an efficacious product, but how many people who need electrophysiology (EP) to diminish AF will be influenced by the placement of this ad on this medium? Let's look at the decision tree involved: Perhaps some people who are taking beta blockers or other drugs may choose to place their drug vials in this particular bag, and then if their AF is refractory to the drugs, they might remember seeing this ad, and then they might say to their cardiologist just around the time they are planning an EP treatment, "Gee, last time I was in the airport, I picked up a 3-1-1 bag at security that suggested that a particular catheter was real cool. Are you planning to use that catheter?"

Sound likely? Not to me. I therefore ask the questions I have posed before:

So, I guess I just don't get it, and I am asking for your help. What do you think is the purpose of this kind of ad? And, do you think it is effective in accomplishing that purpose?

(Please, I am really asking these questions because I don't understand. I have no hidden agenda. This is not a critique of this company, this product, or our economic system! I am hoping that doctors, patients, or manufacturers out there can offer insights to us all.)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was probably left over from the Heart Rhythm Society meeting last week. All those EPs gotta go through Logan, right?

AB said...

The ad is there for you (and people like you), not for the patients; it's there to improve brand recognition. And it served its purpose very well in your case.

Paul Levy said...

How does brand recognition help? I am not involved in buying these things. How many people passing through the terminal are?

nasov said...

My bet: it's an irregular bag not suitable for its original purpose and so it's been donated. Notice that the printer color checks are still on the plastic. Wouldn't that be trimmed off in manufacturing?
So maybe it's not advertising, but recycling.

Bekki said...

It could have been a value-added part of another media purchase within the airport. Are there more targeted options J&J could have selected? Yes, but they may have bought a few signs within the airport (back-lit, on the floor) for a particular conference and the media company may have added these for a small additional charge or nothing at all.

(I work in advertising and have seen this sort of thing before. I've never bought ads on TSA 311 bags, but I bet it's possible.)

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the advertising dollars might be better spent in R&D or lower prices???

TBHome said...

Another example of grasping for "share of mind." Would Intel be less successful w/o their "Intel inside" campaign? Yet how many of us ever purchased a computer because there were Intel chips inside? Or which of us bought the chips "inside"? Most of us did neither. But we all know "Intel"...
On the one hand it is a sensory assault to be always bombarded by "ads." On the other hand competition is so great every company looks for the slightest edge.

Anonymous said...

so maybe I shouldn't have bought that J and J stock..... (:

nonlocal

lshamby said...

Paul, I am with you. I struggle with the same type of concept as we post ads for our hospital system at various sporting events. High visibility yes, but how do we monitor the effectiveness of such marketing in terms of $ spent and patients recruited / helped (lives saved) when in the context of making budget decisions.

Cardiology doc said...

The EP meetings were in Boston so the company was probably targeting the thousands of EPs and allied professionals who were flying into Boston.

Paul Levy said...

Ah hah!

Anonymous said...

I would not bet against J&J marketing ever. Someone looked at some demographic data, cost data, and who may or may not be coming though the airport that week.

I would ask the question differently: who was in town meetings etc? And then ask the question: Is this to sell more AF catheters or to let those who know what they are and have used them to have yet another reminder. Reach and frequency is the issue.

Carl said...

There also seems to be a ripple effect here. You are talking about it on your blog. There are many who read this blog and some who buy that product. This may spark that person to order more, or change to that product. It's almost a viral campaine now. Do marketers think about this when the place adds, yeah, they do. Sometimes ads don't even tell you the name of the product. But it gets people talking and then before you know it, everyone knows what product that ad is for.

Carl

Paul Levy said...

OMG, you mean I inadvertently became part of a viral marketing campaign!?

The Medical Quack said...

I had to look twice here, making sure I was seeing what I was reading and yes it is an odd place for catheter advertising, agree.

A few months ago I conducted an interview with Dr. Bart Muhs Assistant Professor of Vascular Surgery and Radiology Co from Yale on the subject related to aneurysm repairs and somewhat hinted around and inquired as to if there was any one better than the other, Cook, J and J, Boston Scientific etc. and he had no preference, and would use the device best suited for the patient. It is strange how the advertising was in place.

They are expensive devices though, so maybe there's some extra money left over for advertising:)

Anonymous said...

I am sure the bags were meant to cater to the HRS meeting. Good point, still. I do not appreciate direct to consumer medical advertising. Physicians (or NPs, PAs) should choose devices/medications/therapies based upon evidence-base medicine and the unique specifics of each patient.

stexeira said...

To me this reeks of some "genius" at an ad agency having the idea that millions of people would see the ad if they went with this innovative means of delivery. That would increase brand recognition and, possibly, start a viral campaign with everybody talking about it. The rest of the agency picked up on the idea and nobody at any point said, "Wait, the emperor's got no clothes." Of course an ad like this has no business being at the airport. The odds of it starting a viral campaign are mighty slim (these score of posts notwithstanding), and the odds of it actually being seen by decision makers in the health care industry interested in this kind of thing? Small. Even if it were part of some timely campaign aimed at travelers for a specific conference, you have to ask whether the security checkpoint at an airport is really the place where people are at their most receptive. Think of the state of mind that you are usually in when standing in those lines, is that how you want potential customers to feel when they recall your product name? Frustrated? Tired? Anxious? Doesn't sound good to me.