The popularity of the birth-control patch continues to grow, fueled by millions of dollars in advertising.
"Just peel, stick and go," says one advertisement. "On your body. Off your mind," says another.
The slogans are catchy, the television advertisements sexy and fun and the endorsers included the Norwegian Olympic beach volleyball players and supermodel Naomi Campbell. It was chosen as one of Time magazine's "Coolest Inventions" in 2002.
In an award-winning marketing blitz, Ortho McNeil set out to sell its patch directly to consumers. Magazine advertisements for the patch included nonmedicated samples. Online, customers could download a $5 coupon for the patch. Swimsuit models wore placebo patches at New York fashion shows. The company received awards and honors for its advertising from both industry groups in the United States and Europe.
The result: In less than three years, more than 5 million women in the U.S. tried the patch. American sales of Ortho Evra were estimated at $400 million in 2004, accounting for 15 percent of the U.S. market.
This year, however, the marketing blitz made a significant change.
In March, Johnson & amp; Johnson -- parent company of Ortho McNeil -- unveiled new and unusually candid television and print advertisements featuring doctors, not models, who talk about risks associated with the patch, including blood clots and strokes.
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