DDR on DTC: Merck's Gardasil

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Merck's Gardasil has one of the most effective DTC campaigns ever developed. In this case, they have really captured lightning in a bottle—to perfection! Hats off to Merck and their agency teams at DDB/Rapp-Collins for creating a campaign that is positive, upbeat, educational, empowering and relevant without being sad, mordant or impenetrable. 

This campaign features real girls and real moms, who are really real. We congratulate Merck on bringing out this vaccine and on being smart enough to advertise its benefits directly to girls and their mothers. Merck thus enabled and motivated women to talk with their doctors about HPV and protection from disease. And isn't an informed, positive dialogue with a doctor the goal of DTC? 

Why is this a great campaign? Merck and DDB uncovered insights about how women would understand and use knowledge of HPV prevention in the tricky discussion arena of STDs. This campaign leveraged a perfect storm of insights—emotional insights about how girls and mothers would respond to news of this vaccine and how they could talk about it using a realistic tone. All this insight is coupled with insights about where this audience would most be interested in receiving this information. Oh, and did I mention the resulting $1.4 billion in Gardisil sales in 2007? A very effective campaign indeed. 

Deborah Dick-Rath is SVP, healthcare practice leader, at FactorTG

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