Don Nicholas

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

What triggered this column was a full-page advertisement in The New York Times for Pradaxa, a drug designed to treat a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, which has just been cleared for launch into the marketplace.

The stakes are huge. One pharmaceutical analyst predicted that by 2018, Pradaxa will generate blockbuster revenues of $1.38 billion.

The headline of the ad and deck are shown in the IN THE NEWS box at right.

It is immediately obvious that Pradaxa hired rank amateurs to create its print campaign.

Clearly, neither advertiser nor agency nor creative people had a clue what they were doing. The ad breaks the most basic rule of advertising, which means that it was flat out missed by many of the very patients it was aiming to reach.

'Twas the season of gifts last month, and the publishing industry was certainly hoping to bring in some new subscribers. We witnessed a rash of gift subscription offers, with one correspondent receiving three two-for-one offers in the same week. For example, Forbes went trolling for a renewal and packaged it with a gift subscription offer that would cost the current customer nothing. The current subscriber gets a renewal for the usual price and the chance to send a friend a gift for free. In return, Forbes gets a renewal and the name of a new prospect. But is this the best way to prospect?

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