Thursday, August 27, 2009

Insurance, Trust + the Free Market System

According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, “The insurance industry suffers from a general lack of trust — the ‘animosity issue.’” In fact, only 41% of U.S. customers agree with the statement that “insurance companies can be completely trusted.”

So, I was very interested when I saw a piece on Boing Boing on the “anti-universal-health-care” movement which ultimately led me to Bill Moyers’ interview of Wendell Potter on PBS. A former VP of public relations at Cigna, Potter was talking about the “dirty tricks” used by the insurance industry to fight universal healthcare.

“The [insurance] industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism,” Potter said. “We shouldn't fear government involvement in our health care system. There is an appropriate role for government.”

I say, let the free market compete — and if government comes in, they will compete, too.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bird Hammers Humans When It Comes to Investing

Oh, dear. More bad news for the investment community, from the Telegraph (via Arbroath).

With a 13.7% return, a five-year-old parrot named Ddalgi won a third place finish in a South Korean stock investment contest sponsored by Paxnet, an online stock market information provider. The parrot trounced seven human investors, who averaged a 4.6% loss. The only two humans to outperform Ddalgi realized investment returns of 64.4% and 21.4%, respectively.

The human investors chose whichever stocks they wanted; Ddalgi, using its beak, made random choices from balls representing 30 blue chip companies. Each investor started with 60 million South-Korean won ($48,438) and traded 10 million won ($8,073) worth of stocks in each transaction.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Moral Is: Don’t Be a Technology Snob

It’s sometimes easy to forget in today’s high-tech world that there is still an important place for “low-tech” media. A tip of the hat to JWT Tokyo, which recently won an award for a breakthrough campaign — designed to market the Nestlé Kit Kat candy bar — that centered on a 4,000-year-old technology: snail mail.

The ad agency was struck by the Japanese translation of Kit Kat (“Kitto Katso” means “surely win”) and the tradition of sending good luck wishes to students before important exams. So they collaborated with Japan Post to create Kit Kat Mail, a new postcard-like, good luck charm that could be purchased only at the post office … the equivalent of 20,000 entirely new, competitor-free retail outlets for Nestle’s.

According to Advertising Age, the campaign generated the $11 million in ad equivalency and Kit Kat Mail has become a permanent part of Japanese pop culture. Even in one of the world’s most technology-driven countries, it’s clear that there are plenty of opportunities to be had, if you just slow down and look around.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, August 7, 2009

Diabetes? Hypertension? There’s an App for That!

The iPhone represents an important — “potentially huge” — new marketing opportunity for pharma marketers, as outside developers begin to morph the phone into a diagnostic device for both consumers and healthcare professionals.

According to reporter Rich Thomaselli of Advertising Age, when Apple unveiled its 3.0 software-development kit this spring, the company demonstrated how pharmaceutical manufacturers could exploit the iPhone's external-accessories application to hook up a blood-pressure cuff to the iPhone.

“For Big Pharma, the opportunity is clear, writes Thomaselli. “A consumer who tests positive for high blood pressure or diabetes via the iPhone will clearly be a marketing target for prescription medications or ancillary medical services.”

Recently, LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson company that makes diabetes products, introduced a prototype for an application that would allow diabetics to interface their glucometers with the iPhone, thereby enabling them to better adjust their medications and diet.

There are already more than 500 medical apps among the iPhone’s more than 35,000 existing apps. An issue that’s certain to arise in the not-so-distant future: the question of when an iPhone becomes a medical device — and thus subject to FDA scrutiny.

Labels: , , , ,