Program sponsorship will garner goodwill, Astra says

Astra Pharma will air the second in a planned series of four 30-minute sponsored tv programs on health issues on Sept 24.The upcoming show, entitled Down with High Pressure, focusses on high blood pressure and is intended to inform viewers about...

Astra Pharma will air the second in a planned series of four 30-minute sponsored tv programs on health issues on Sept 24.

The upcoming show, entitled Down with High Pressure, focusses on high blood pressure and is intended to inform viewers about the problem and scientific advances that are being made against it.

Like all the programs in the series, Down with High Pressure will run without commercial interruption and, despite the fact Astra has invested $500,000 in production, promotion and broadcast costs, the company’s name will appear only in tags at the beginning and end of the broadcast.

Allan Cook, director of marketing with Mississauga, Ont.-based Astra, says the drug maker views the program, not as an initiative designed to drive sales, but as a goodwill gesture.

Although Astra makes three products for patients with high blood pressure, no mention is made of this in either the program or sponsorship tags.

‘There is no direct benefit to us other than an acknowledgment from government and third-party payers [private insurance companies] that we are trying to reduce costs in the health-care system,’ Cook says.

The program will air on 29 networks and stations across the country in a variety of time slots close to primetime viewing hours.

Astra’s first foray into tv program sponsorship took place Jan. 29 when it underwrote a similar show on asthma.

Ulcers

Later this year, it will roll out a third program on ulcers. A fourth, in the concept stage, will probably be broadcast in 1995.

Gary Dickens, president of AV House Multimedia, the Toronto company that is producing the Astra program series, says he has tapped into a growing market for corporate sponsorship of educational tv programs.

Dickens has coined the term ‘edumercial’ to refer to tv shows sponsored by corporations, non-profit organizations or government with the goal of providing information about a company, topic or service.

av, which specializes in corporate communications, has created four edumercials since 1991, two for Inco and two for Astra Pharma.

According to Dickens, av is working with several other clients, including two more drug companies, a real estate firm and a computer firm.