Zicam and Innovation

>> Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Zicam news from last week has now been reported in virtually every channel imaginable. Anyone in the marketing space knows the scoop. So I wasn't going to comment on it because honestly I didn't think I had anything to add to the story.

But I got to thinkin' ...

I hope that this recent news doesn't become a "Zicam effect" on product innovation. Yes, products should be tested for both their efficacy and their safety. And yes, the FDA should govern over both the practices to prove efficacy/safety as well as manufacturer compliance.

But as a health and wellness industry, we need to continue to innovate. We need to continually come up with new solutions that help consumers stay well. We need to give them options and choices, using the latest in science and technology and imagination.

When Zicam was first introduced, I was working on Tylenol. As someone who was working in the cough/cold/flu category for over a decade, I was so impressed by the innovation. Zicam was a new option for consumers and it quickly became a success.

No we shouldn't put products in the market that can cause damage, and I don't personally know if that's even the case with Zicam. I don't know enough about the situation. But I also don't want to have the industry get scared into submission, and pull back on product development and innovation as a result.

That would be a bad effect of the recent Zicam news. Let's keep innovating -- and testing our imagination.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


William Martino June 23, 2009 at 10:42 AM  

Great point Jim. I thought about a parallel issue when FDA recently issued warning letters to 14 pharmaceutical companies for their use of paid search ads. We have an industry that's trying to reach patients in new and innovative ways (especially in areas like social media), and now they are forced to (temporarily) withdraw efforts from a fundamental piece of their marketing puzzle because of regulatory concern. Will this make Pharma/Health/Wellness marketers more tentative or "safe" so as to avoid things like warning letters in the future? Time till tell.

Nobody wants to mislead by misrepresenting product risk or benefit, just as they don't want to cause damage or harm patients, but let's hope that brands continue to innovate on all sides of the equation (product development and marketing/advertising). Two steps forward, one step back is still progress.

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