May 23, 2017

Campaign Spotlight: Ads Seek to Clear Up Qualms About Cataract Surgery

Take, for instance, a new campaign from the Alcon division of Novartis, which features print advertisements that carry the headline “This is not your mother’s cataract surgery.” The campaign, now under way, is meant to educate the baby boomer generation about cataract surgery and how, as the ads put it, “today’s advanced technology” enables doctors to offer patients “an opportunity to get your youthful vision back.”

The campaign, with a budget estimated at $3 million, includes, in addition to the print ads, a special Web site, or microsite, and digital ads. The agencies involved in the campaign include HCB Health in Austin, Tex., for the creative duties; the Starcom division of the Starcom MediaVest Group, part of the Publicis Groupe, for the media duties; and Tribal Worldwide, part of the DDB Worldwide unit of the Omnicom Group, which built the microsite.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a collaboration between Alcon and the AARP Media Sales unit of AARP that involves AARP print and digital properties. More than $1 million of the total ad budget is to be spent in the properties represented by AARP Media Sales, which include AARP The Magazine and the aarp.org Web site.

As part of the collaboration, Alcon and AARP teamed for a telephone survey of 1,000 members of AARP, age 50 and older, to find out about their awareness and understanding of cataracts and cataract surgery. The results of the survey helped guide the creation of the campaign.

The partnership is another example of an increasingly popular trend on Madison Avenue known as content marketing, which brings together brands and media companies for advertising that is primarily meant to be entertaining or informative rather than using hard-sell tactics to peddle products.

That fits well with the Alcon campaign because its principal goal is to advocate for cataract surgery in general among consumers rather than promote specific Alcon surgical products to them or medical professionals.

“Typically, our marketing efforts have been geared to professional audiences,” says Seba Leoni, vice president and general manager for United States surgical at Alcon in Fort Worth. “Rarely do we go to consumers.”

“This is a first-of-a-kind campaign,” he adds.

The collaboration with AARP is “for focused objectives aimed at driving awareness,” Mr. Leoni says, “to inform and educate about available options for cataract surgery, and how it can be tailored to individual needs.”

“AARP is critical because it reaches the target audience, 50-plus,” he adds, including people with cataracts who “have not been diagnosed” as well as “people who have been diagnosed but not treated yet.”

In the survey, only two out of five respondents who are cataract patients said they planned to have surgery in the next two years. Among the explanations for putting it off, 44 percent said their vision was “fine for now” and 14 percent said they were afraid, fearful or scared of the surgery.

“Vision health is a top priority” for older people, Mr. Leoni says, and they “are generally aware about cataracts but may not know about all the treatment options available today.” Of course, as the leader in cataract surgery, it is in Alcon’s interest to let them know more about surgical treatments.

That is reflected in a section of the survey devoted to responses from people who had cataract surgery. Four out of five said it was easier than they expected, according to the survey, and two out of three said it was not painful.

“The outcome is extremely positive, but there may be some hesitation,” Mr. Leoni says, especially among those who are “not aware how far cataract surgery has come” and how other conditions like presbyopia and astigmatism can also be treated during the surgery.

That perception is expressed in the “This is not your mother’s cataract surgery” headline.

“Twenty years ago, they didn’t have the advances in technology they have today,” says Kim Carpenter, vice president for account services at HCB Health.

“We want to educate the baby boomer population that when you’re diagnosed it’s not something to fear,” she adds, “and that cataract surgery is an opportunity to have better vision than you’ve had.”

Ms. Carpenter calls cataracts “one of those silent thieves” that can take a toll among today’s older people who are used to “an active life style.”

“This generation doesn’t accept the status quo,” she says, “and they’re taking better care of themselves” in areas like eye health.

The collaborative campaign represents “a great opportunity for Alcon and a great opportunity for AARP to educate its members,” she adds.

Patricia Lippe Davis, vice president for marketing at AARP Media Sales, notes that “as of next year, 100 percent of boomers will be 50” because the baby boom generation is defined as those Americans born from 1946 through 1964.

Ms. Davis traces the origins of the partnership between AARP and Alcon to an article, “Six Ways to Save Your Eyesight,” that appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of AARP The Magazine.

“There was an Alcon advertisement in that issue, and that ad was extremely successful for the company,” she recalls, which led to Alcon’s reaching out to AARP Media Sales to ask about potential joint initiatives in “the vision space.”

That produced the survey, which was conducted in April, followed by the campaign, which appears in the August/September issue of AARP The Magazine along with an article, “The Truth About Cataracts and Cataract Surgery.”

The growing appeal of content marketing is tempered by concerns about a blurring of the line between advertising and editorial content. In this instance, Ms. Davis says, there was an agreement that the content would be shared by Alcon and AARP but that Alcon “can have no influence on any editorial that was created.”

“This allowed us to create member value,” she adds, “letting us go deeper into a subject affecting our members.”

In addition to the AARP media properties, the campaign is appearing in publications like Golf, Guideposts, Ladies’ Home Journal, Prevention, Reader’s Digest, The Saturday Evening Post and Spry. The other online media outlets include AOL, Healthgrades and WebMD.

The campaign is scheduled to run through the end of the year. And “we’re already planning for 2014,” says Ms. Carpenter of HCB Health.

The intent is to introduce another creative approach in October and November, she adds, that will be “all about celebrating your independence, your freedom from cataracts,” reflecting how 90 percent of the respondents to the survey said their independence is “extremely important” to them.

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/business/media/ads-seek-to-clear-up-qualms-about-cataract-surgery.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Hiring in U.S. Tapers Off as Economy Fails to Gain Speed

American employers increased their payrolls by 88,000 last month, compared with 268,000 in February, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. It was the slowest pace of growth since last June, and less than half of what economists had expected.

It also was the start of a third consecutive spring in which employers have tapered off their hiring, even after the Labor Department adjusted the numbers for the usual seasonal changes. Slowdowns in the previous two years could be attributed to flare-ups in the European debt crisis, but this time the cause is unclear. The recent payroll tax increase or political gridlock in Washington could be to blame for the sudden slowdown, but neither seems to be showing up much in other relevant economic data.

“I’m at a bit of loss as to how to explain it,” said Paul Dales, senior United States economist at Capital Economics. “Even if this is the start of another springtime-summertime slowdown, we’re hoping it’ll be a bit more modest than it was in previous years, because the housing market is doing very well.”

The unemployment rate, which comes from a different survey, ticked down to 7.6 percent in March, from 7.7 percent, but for an unwelcome reason: more people dropped out of the labor force, rather than more got jobs.

The labor force participation rate has not been this low — 63.3 percent — since 1979, a time when women were less likely to be working. Baby boomer retirements may account for part of the slide, but discouragement about job prospects in a mediocre economy still seems to be playing a large role, economists say.

“The drop in the participation rate has been centered on younger workers,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at MFR Inc., “many of whom have given up hope of finding a decent job and are instead continuing in school and racking up enormous amounts of student debt, which has contributed to the recent surge in consumer credit outstanding.”

Stock market indexes were down in Friday afternoon trading.

Still, as always, economists cautioned not to draw too many conclusions from one month’s report, because the numbers will inevitably be revised.

“Remember that we’ve had a pattern of upward revisions,” said John Ryding, the chief economist at RDQ Economics, noting that the government on Friday revised January and February’s net growth upward by a total of 61,000 jobs. “Before we read too much into it, bear in mind we have at least two more cracks of the whip before the number is really finalized.”

March’s job gains were concentrated in professional and business services and health care, while the government again shed workers, as it has been doing for most of the last four years, though reductions at the Postal Service accounted for most of the latest decline. Economists expect more government layoffs in the months ahead as the effects of Congress’s across-the-board budget cuts make their way through the system.

Some policy makers have started to publicly address deficiencies in the quality of the jobs being created by the private sector, in addition to their quantity.

“It’s important to look at the types of jobs that are being created because those jobs will directly affect the fortunes and challenges of households and neighborhoods as well as the course of the recovery,” Sarah Bloom Raskin, a member of the Federal Reserve Board, said in a recent speech.

Relatively low-wage sectors like food services and retail businesses have accounted for a large share of the job growth in the last few years; a report in August from the National Employment Law Project, a liberal advocacy group, found that a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, while a majority of those added during the recovery have been low-paying.

In March, in fact, jobs in food services and drinking places accounted for the largest share of total American employment on record. Today nearly one in 13 American jobs is in this industry.

Ms. Raskin also expressed concern about temporary jobs, which account for a growing share of total employment.

Usually an increase in temp hiring is considered a good thing, at least at the start of a recovery, because it indicates that employers are thinking about taking on permanent workers. So far, though, employers seem to be sticking with those temporary contracts.

“Temporary help is rapidly approaching a new record,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, who noted that there was also a rapid increase in temp hiring during the boom years of the 1990s. “That of course means more flexibility for employers, and less job security for workers.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/06/business/economy/us-adds-only-88000-jobs-jobless-rate-falls-to-7-6.html?partner=rss&emc=rss