Meet Pill Dude

Ever heard of the TakeAway program? Neither had we before we met with our friends at the Iowa Pharmacy Association. The TakeAway program is a state-funded drug disposal initiative that allows Iowans to bring their unused prescription medication back to 400 participating pharmacies across the state – including Hy-Vee and Medicap. It is the only state in the U.S. operating the program. And to date, it has collected nearly 12 tons of medication.

screen-shot-2011-09-28-at-12-51-44-pm-300x188The benefits of the program? Medication doesn’t end up in our drinking water by being flushed down the toilet. It helps reduce the potential for abuse of prescription medication by youths. And it helps reduce the potential for accidental overmedication – especially in elderly. All good things.

But the program had a very limited budget to promote itself. Not enough to make an impact with a statewide newspaper campaign. Or a radio campaign. Definitely not a tv campaign. So, what do you do?

Enter “Pill Dude”. Imagine an oversized pill bottle-shaped figure walking on the street outside your local pharmacy. Or the local local 4th of July parade. Or at the county fair. Or the local farmer’s market. Passing out handouts educating people about where they can safely take their unused medications for disposal – free. You can’t tell me that wouldn’t at least catch your attention.

It’s always interesting pitching a crazy idea like “Pill Dude” to a client. It’s a risk. But if the strategy is right and the client has an open mind, sometimes it just works. In this case, Iowa Pharmacy went for it. In fact, after about 6 weeks of commissioning the first Pill Dude and pushing unsuspecting pharmacy interns out into the public wearing it, they came back and ordered 4 more. It seems that the demand for Pill Dude was growing across the state – and one wasn’t enough to go around.

So, what do we hope you take away from this?

1) Take your prescription meds back to your pharmacy for disposal. 2) Watch for Pill Dude at local events – and help spread the word. 3) Sometimes a limited marketing budget makes you think more creatively. 4) Non-traditional ideas that align with a strategy can make you stand out in an over-hyped marketing world.

You can learn more about the takeaway program by visiting here … or see Pill Dude on Facebook here.