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Introduction

Gardasil and Cervarix are the only types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) that have been licensed to protect individuals against certain types of infections that are cancerous to the cervix. Gardasil is licensed for use by females in the age bracket of 9-26 years and also for males in the age bracket of 9-26 years. Cervalix on the other hand is used by women in the age bracket of 10-25 years.

The Gardasil vaccine was licensed in 2006 (Cowan, 2012). In an effort to inform the market about the vaccine, Merck Pharmaceutical Company launched a campaign aimed at marketing the drug to the Americans. The company flooded the televisions screens, movie as well as the computer screens with information regarding this Gardasil vaccine.

Merck uses the slogan ‘One Less Girl’, that is, one girl is less with cervical cancer, in the television screens to educate the viewers on the importance of health care that aims at preventing cervical cancer. The use of the teenage and the adolescent girls help to differentiate this vaccine from the cervalix vaccine which is its major competitor as it also prevents the cervix cancer. Use of the teenage girls in the Gardasil ad, however, helps to differentiate the Gardasil vaccine from the Cervalix vaccine as it is seen to target the young women only unlike the Cervalix ads which do not use the teenage girls in their ads but instead use middle aged women.

Hence from the use of the girl, the vaccine is seen to target that segment of the market that is not yet sexually active (teenagers) so as to avoid the risk of contracting the cancerous virus. This ad adequately communicates the benefit of the product to the target market segment as the audience (teenagers) is alerted on the ways to ensure the HPV virus is hampered through the vaccine. The ad also provides women who are in the middle age with an opportunity for them to be vaccinated given that they are the most vulnerable to the cervical cancer. It is designed to target the younger female part of the market segment. The ad is evident in the use of the girl intends to market the vaccine to the girls only. It, however, fails to address the male part of the market segment.

This ad (‘One Less Girl’) was very successful and even earned the vaccine (Gardasil) the brand of the year in the pharmaceutical industries. According to the pharmaceutical executive, the company had successfully managed to educate the public on the disease, that is, the HPV, and had been able to attract a market out of the thin air. Apart from the television ad which used a girl, the company also launched an initiative to educate the doctors and the people who provide the patients with the necessary care about the vaccine and its effectiveness. The company outsourced several organizations to educate the doctors about the Gardasil vaccine (Snider, 2010).

As much as it is only women who are likely to be affected with the cervical cancer, men are also likely to be carriers of the same virus. The ad assumes that only women are likely to be affected by the STD and not the men. This is a completely false assumption which any person viewing the ad could easily make. In the ad, young girls are shown together with their mothers. The girls are seen to be participating in sporting activities together with other teenage girls in school.

This is an evidence of how this ad excludes other demographics of the market segment, that is, the men and the older women. This may trigger negative emotions among the viewers who may think that the ad is geared towards the women only and, hence, shun from buying it. The ad completely rules out other ways of preventing the disease and especially among the young teenage girls (Lippman, 2008). The advertisement can, however, be redesigned to ensure that it effectively targets the men and the older women by including them in the promotion of the vaccine.

Conclusion

The ‘One Girl Less’ advertisement by Merck Pharmaceutical company was well structured and creative enough to capture the intended market segment. It translated to huge sales for the company although it was later criticized by various governments and medical practitioners. The company would have made even more sales would they have captured all the relevant groups in the ad as cancer affects almost all the demographics in the market.

Recommendations

The advertisement should cover all the market segments and especially those who have a high risk of contracting the virus (HPV) this includes the men (Godwin, 2009). The ad should also include the older women to avoid discrimination against them. The company should overhaul the ad and come up with new ads that adequately inform all the demographics on how it can help prevent the HPV virus.

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