Merck hires B-M to rebuild image

NEW JERSEY: US drugs giant Merck has brought in Burson-Marsteller to help it forge a better reputation.

The 'fully integrated' marcoms effort - billed as Merck's first such campaign - will include media relations, point-of-sale educational materials and radio plugs.

Although Merck remains embroiled in the after-effects of the high-profile global recall of arthritis drug Vioxx, the company insists the campaign has been in development for more than two years.

'As a 114-year-old company with a proud history, we're suffering from a lot of misconceptions and concerns that are related to a lack of information,' said executive director of corporate communications Len Tacconi. 'It's a story that needs to be told.'

The campaign will promote the company's heritage and the volume of unbranded information via which the company targets patients.

'Most of the communications is not traditional corporate communications,' Tacconi said, adding: 'It's not self-serving in any way.'

Merck launched the advertising component of the campaign two months ago using Ogilvy & Mather - like B-M an agency in the WPP group (PRWeek, 17 June).

B-M global health practice chair Ame Wadler, based in the agency's New York office, is leading the Merck account. She declined to comment on the campaign ahead of its launch in the next few weeks.

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