Success story: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Position:Health Care - Advertising the use of generic drugs

With encouragement from the Detroit Regional Chamber, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan launched a major campaign in 2001 to increase the use of generic drugs. The campaign--called "Generic Drugs--The Unadvertised Brand"--seeks to raise awareness among consumers about the safety and efficacy of generics as well as the cost savings. Generics are usually priced from 30 to 75 percent less than their brand-name counterparts.

William Elwell, director of communications and advertising for BCBSM, says the long-term goals of the campaign are to elevate:

* The image of generics from "inferior" products to simply an unadvertised alternative to advertised brands.

* General awareness of the availability of unadvertised brands, especially as more brand-name drugs come off patent.

* Understanding that the FDA reviews unadvertised brand drugs.

* Awareness of the Blues' generic dispensing rate incentive program among pharmacists.

A cross-disciplinary team of experts at the Blues was assembled to develop an ongoing, integrated communications campaign and a statewide pharmacy competition that ran in 2001.Because there was no designated budget for the campaign, the team was challenged to use existing communication tools and resources to...

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