NCC Spreads 'Healthy Knowledge'


National Cable Communications is working on a prescription to bring more health-care information to consumers and more pharmaceutical ad dollars to its members.

Collaborating with Healthology, a creator and Web distributor of health-related information, NCC has developed a package of in-store, Internet and TV elements that will provide consumers with educational materials about afflictions, as well as steps to ensure their wellbeing.

The Healthy Knowledge program would arm chain drug stores, as well as supermarket and mass merchandisers that proffer pharmacy services, with point-of-sale materials that reference medical conditions and health-related solutions.

Participating retailers would able to offer visitors to their Web site's five-minute video segments featuring interviews with leading experts on particular conditions and their treatments. All told, Healthology has produced segments on over 300 topics, including allergy, asthma, sexual dysfunction, and weight management.

From that content, the retailers — in concert with a drug manufacturer that offers a remedy for a particular health concern — would be able to run 30-second vignettes on cable networks.

Marc Bodner, NCC's vice president of marketing and communications, said the program should appeal to a number of pharmacy retailers looking to differentiate themselves and forge brand loyalty in the marketplace.

"Research shows that location and price are often the determining factors in choosing a retailer in this category, but consumers have also indicated that retailers providing a higher level of service and access to information on medical conditions and health-related topics will capture more business," he said.

Added Healthology CEO Steven Haimowitz in a statement: "Highly credible, unbiased and practical health information is of great value to consumers, since it directly contributes to their own well being, as well as to that of their family and friends.

"Healthy Knowledge offers retailers a platform to develop a very unique relationship with consumers by supporting a valuable educational service that consumers will consistently identify with that retailer."

Bodner said that cable's largest spot rep firm began working with Healthology on the program earlier this year, and has been talking to chains over the past three months. He declined to identify whether such retailers as Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Eckerd, Wal-Mart Stores, Kroger or Albertson's are specifically in the hunt, saying only "we're speaking with major chains."

NCC wanted to avoid overlap with chains in various markets, and is also trying to navigate extant educational programs at the store level, he said. As such, negotiations have been complex.

Still, Bodner has been "pleased with the discussions and their pace. It's taking a little longer to put these deals together."

NCC's game plan ultimately calls for the retailers and appropriate pharmaceutical manufacturers to sponsor the vignettes, which would run on various services.

"The idea is to build schedules on networks that would target groups with the health-related topics, whether kids, women, men or the elderly," said Bodner.

NCC, owned jointly by Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable, has access to some 67 million cable homes, via more than 2,500 systems in 207 of the U.S.'s 210 TV markets.