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Executive Summary

VLI Corp. is beginning a $3.5 mil. consumer promotion campaign for the Today contraceptive sponge with cable T.V., radio and print advertising, the company announced Aug. 28. The firm has already "begun airing its radio commercial for the Today sponge on 70 stations in 17 different markets across the country." A recently filmed T.V. commercial, VLI noted, "is scheduled to air on such cable operations as WTBS and USA Cable." Print ads will be featured in October issues of natl. circulation women's magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Self, Glamour, Brides and American Health. Also, a VLI spokesperson said, the company will complement its advertising effort with a newspaper coupon promotion. The coupon program is scheduled to begin in September. The scripts for the radio and T.V. spots and the ad copy for the print messages assert the theme that the Today product is the first innovation in birth control since the introduction of Rx oral contraceptives. For example, under a large headline which reads "Haven't you waited long enough for a new idea in birth control," the magazine copy states: "It's been a long time. Twenty-four years, and you haven't had a sensible new option in birth control. Until Today. Today, the 24-hour contraceptive sponge." The ad continues: "In 1960, the Pill gave women a new freedom. In 1984, the sponge gives you a new choice." VLI Hopes To Extend From Cable To Commercial Networks: Consumer Research On Contraceptive Ads Underway All three ads (radio, T.V. and print) state that the product is safe and that consumers "don't have to worry about hormonal side effects." The ads also compare the effectiveness of the product to other non-Rx contraceptives. For example, the magazine copy states that "no other non-Rx vaginal contraceptive has been proven more effective." A small print footnote adds that "clinical tests have concluded that women can expect an effectiveness rate of 89-91% if they use the Today Sponge consistently and according to label instructions." Nothing that "VLI directed much of its communications efforts towards the medical community as the sponge was being introduced" in 1983, the company said in a press release that it "will continue to provide this audience with information because of the important role doctors and other family planning professionals play in educating consumers." VLI is currently developing a new print ad for publication in future issues of medical journals, a spokesperson noted, and will also conduct a direct mail campaign for the medical community. While the T.V. ads will initially be limited to cable outlets, the spokesman said that VLI intends to approach the major commercial T.V. networks shortly to try and gain acceptance for the ad. The firm will also try to place the ad on local independent T.V. stations, the spokesperson noted. The company characterized its consumer campaign as an attempt "to break down the barriers to advertising contraceptives in the mass media." VLI President Robert A. Elliott noted that "contraceptives are one of the last categories of products to be banned from television, radio and newspapers. . . We believe contraceptive advertising that is educational, tasteful and dignified can serve as an important public service. It is especially important to educate consumers about the sponge because it is available without a prescription." As part of its effort to gain acceptance for contraceptive advertising, VLI said, it "is now conducting research among consumers which it believes will demonstrate to network censors and others the openness with which consumers view contraceptive advertisements."

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