MED U boosts online offerings

Thursday, January 31, 2002

MILWAUKEE - Home Care Medical's effort to inject some humor into the HME industry has started paying dividends.

About two years ago, the $25 million independent hired an ad agency to produce two commercials. In the first commercial, two older women sit at a kitchen table trying to figure out how to use a CPAP unit. At one point, one of the puzzled women lifts the mask to her ear. In the second commercial, a delivery guy drop ships a box at the foot of a driveway. An older women, aided by her dog, ends up schlepping the boxed wheelchair up her driveway.

"We used humor and people recognize and remember them," said Enid Asmus, Home Care Medical's communications director. "It's the idea that if you come to Home Care Medical we're not just going to drop something off and expect you to figure out how it works. We're going to take the time to make sure you know how to use it."

As a way to recoup some of the money the company spent producing the commercials, Home Care Medical tried for the past year to license them to other providers. There'd been no takers, until now. Merriam Graves, which operates 15 locations across New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York, licensed the commercials for three years and has exclusive rights to them in its geographic territory.

"Over the years, I tried to envision how to do a television commercial for the HME industry that was appropriate and did the trick," said Tom Andrews, Merriam Graves' director of homecare sales. "It puts a humorous spin on our business, and it is more of a name recognition type of a concept."

Merriam Graves plans to run the commercials on cable TV and expects the humor to catch the eyes of consumers and doctors and build brand awareness.

That's been Home Care Medical's experience, Asmus said.

"We haven't done any official tracking," she said. "But lots of referral sources and clients have come into our retail store and commented that they saw the commercials." HME