Merck to cut back on DTC TV ads, says No. 2 exec

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Merck plans to scale back its DTC television advertising for new drugs in favor of a more targeted, Internet-focused approach, the company's No. 2 executive told The Financial Times this week. Merck's president of global human health, Peter Loescher, said in an interview with The Times that changes in viewer habits and awareness of a more cost-effective use of resources have made a new approach necessary. "The new model will also move away from a broad broadcast DTC approach in its classical sense. It has to. Because as a consumer we’re sitting in front of our TV and we’re switching all the time," he said. Loescher said Merck is experimenting with different channels of marketing, including Web sites such as iVillage, a woman's site and in online communities, to better know its target audiences and how its marketing messages work. "We tried to target specific populations—be far more targeted and far more diverse," he said. A call to a Merck spokesman seeking further details went unreturned at press time. Merck CEO Dick Clark appointed Loescher as his top lieutenant in May to restructure the company's sales and marketing approach and oversee public affairs. Loescher is slated to make his debut to investors during a company presentation Dec. 12.

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