Yesterday, on Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, Rick Santorum’s main supporter, Foster Friess, had this to say about Bayer aspirin:


(if you don’t feel like watching the video, Friess said, “This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”)

Regardless of where you stand politically, one can imagine that Bayer Aspirin can’t be too thrilled with these comments (unless you think “gals” are going to run out to buy Bayer now). Just last May, Time Magazine reported that Bayer is really only well-known among a particular demographic- older Americans with heart conditions. The reason? Due to some pretty outstanding marketing strategies in the late ’80s, Bayer aspirin became known as the go-to preventative for heart attacks and strokes in older adults, and people pretty much forgot that originally, Bayer was intended to be a pain medication.

That article inTime Magazine pointed to a new marketing strategy by Bayer to expand their 14.6% market share with faster-acting aspirin and brightly-colored packaging that might appear to a younger demographic in their 40s. But now, a 71 year-old man has made what even Rick Santorum is calling a “bad joke” and tied Bayer to archaic notions of contraception and angry mobs. What would you do if you were Bayer? Well, Bayer is an old company formed in the 1800s in Germany, and they’ve certainly weathered worse storms┬áin their lifetime as a company. So they might be tempted to ride this one out.

But if I was in charge of handling this problem at Bayer, I’d have a few suggestions as to what Bayer could do to turn the tide of this one:

  • Put out an entertaining, “old school style” educational video on YouTube, featuring the President or CEO of Bayer, or at least a high-ranking executive, preferably a woman, talking about responsible birth control and emphasizing that there are many, more effective options than holding a Bayer aspirin between your knees.
  • Create a marketing campaign around the fact that Bayer actually helps create a need for effectively responsible birth control options, as with Bayer, the “Honey, I have a headache,” excuse won’t work anymore, because Bayer relieves headaches so darned well.
  • Start partnering with groups like the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood to develop programs to educate young women and men about birth control options.

Those are just three of the ways that Bayer could take this potentially damaging and awkward connection to an inappropriate (at the least) remark by Foster Friess and turn it into an opportunity.

The question is…will Bayer ignore Friess’ comments and hide their collective heads under their pillows or take their own medicine, as it were, man up, and leverage this moment?

What would you recommend Bayer do?

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