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WAG taps ad firm to hone ‘customer-centric’ message

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. —Walgreens wants more of America’s attention—and more of its discretionary dollars.

In a significant break with its past, Walgreens has shifted its retail marketing efforts to an outside agency. The move is aimed at sparking new life into its brand, grabbing consumer awareness and recapturing sales momentum as the industry giant continues its top-to-bottom rejuvenation and reinvention campaign.

Walgreens revealed July 28 that it has retained Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett USA, to handle promotional work. That makes Arc Worldwide as the chain’s “first-ever promotional marketing agency of record, including shopper marketing,” according to both firms.

Going forward, the agency will work closely with Walgreens’ Customer Centric Retailing team and others within the company to craft a coherent, compelling message about the role the company plays in the health and everyday needs of Americans.

“As part of the new vigor with which Walgreens goes to market, the company is reinventing the customer experience in its stores, and is emphasizing this approach as a priority with the hiring of Arc Worldwide,” the company stated. “Promotions will be designed to not only boost transactions at Walgreens stores, but increase overall traffic to the stores to entice consumers with the experiences that will keep them coming back.”

One of Arc Worldwide’s first duties will be to help Walgreens gear up for the traffic-heavy flu and holiday seasons. Arc also will tap Relay—the sponsorship, consulting and experiential marketing company of Publicis Groupe—for field marketing and event sponsorship projects.

“The hiring of Arc Worldwide as our dedicated promotional marketing agency of record signifies our strategic move to create a more differentiated and integrated Walgreens shopper experience,” said chief marketing officer Kim Feil. “Arc’s expertise in truly connecting with consumers, moving and inspiring them both in-store and out, is going to help Walgreens play a unique role in shoppers’ lives by giving what they need and what they want.”

Arc Worldwide president and chief creative officer Bill Rosen said his firm would apply “leading-edge cross-channel activation expertise, combined with powerful, creative ideas to activate behavior and sales…[to] help transform the way Walgreens communicates with its customers in the months ahead.”

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Washington, Mo., considers repealing recently passed PSE legislation

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The objective here is closing down clandestine methamphetamine labs. The question is: Who is going to bear the cost? And the answer, ultimately, is the consumer.

It seems that one of the primary reasons behind legislation like this, which is also under consideration by the California state legislature as well as several local municipalities throughout Missouri, is cost shifting.

Indeed, one solution that would prevent the practice of “smurfing,” a practice whereby meth addicts exceed their legal purchase limits in pseudoephedrine products by buying across several nearby pharmacies, is electronic logbooking. By granting access to PSE logbooks to law enforcement in real time, law enforcement officers would not only be made aware of a “smurfer” as they were driving between pharmacies, but would also identify who that smurfer was and where they lived.

Setting up that comprehensive electronic logbooking system requires resources, however. State coffers have traditionally been tapped for that purpose, and at least in the case of California, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association has offered to help defray that cost. In the case of Missouri, more than $500,000 has already been earmarked for the implementation of an electronic logbooking system at the state level.

However,  a not-as-much-talked-about cost is also borne by law enforcement, as pointed out by Franklin County Sgt. Jason Grellner in Missouri. After all, it requires additional resources to actually apprehend and prosecute those criminals, he suggested. And a system that better defines who those criminals may be, by his estimation, could cost the state as much as $350,000 per criminal per year.

Therefore, Grellner argues, it’s a fiscal responsibility to take PSE off the OTC market altogether, and require a prescription for the popular decongestant.

That, in a nutshell, is cost-shifting. Because reverse switching PSE translates into less revenue for retailers (and consequently less taxable revenue, as well) for those consumers who choose to forego PSE-provided relief, and for those who don’t, it’s a greater healthcare cost because now consumers have to schedule an appointment with their primary care practitioner and pay the co-pay for that doctor’s visit on top of the cost of the PSE product.

Regardless of how the consumer ultimately pays for the elimination of meth labs — whether through increased taxes to cover escalating law enforcement budgets or through increased personal healthcare costs — there is another argument to be made here. Switching PSE to prescription-only status may result in fewer meth labs busted, but it’s not going to do anything about those meth addicts still on the street. Necessity is the mother of invention, and for addicts, that simply means sourcing their meth from somewhere else.

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