Olympian Retton hawks knee devices

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Mary Lou Retton is returning to TV advertising for device manufacturer Biomet's Oxford Partial Knee System.

The South Bend, IN, company is targeting a younger-than-usual demographic for joint replacements, citing a projected six-fold increase in the number of knee replacement surgeries to some 3.5 million a year by 2030.

Ads in the category typically target patients 55 and up, said Stacey Jones, director of consumer marketing for Biomet Orthopedics, while the Oxford campaign is going for patients as young as 45.

Retton, said Jones, “shares a story that reaches out to the younger generation of Baby Boomers out there with a compelling message about not living in chronic pain.”

Retton, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, has also served as a spokeswoman for Pfizer's Detrol and General Nutrition Centers. She underwent a hip replacement with Biomet's Magnum in 2005 at the age of 37. Biomet is betting she can speak to a growing number of younger people undergoing the procedures. The company is positioning Oxford Partial Knee as a quicker-healing, less-invasive option that allows patients to retain more healthy bone.

The ads, running on national networks as well as on syndicated shows such as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, were executed by Fort Wayne, IN, shop Boyden & Youngblutt.

In the spot, Retton, seated in a cozy armchair, advises viewers with shot knees to “ask your doctor if a partial knee replacement is right for you.”

“If you have arthritis pain in your knee but think total knee replacement is your only option, here's good news,” says Retton, whose narration is accompanied by animation and images of older and younger couples bicycling, dancing and hiking.  

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