Advertising and Marketing Terminology
By Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO
As noted in my April 2011 editorial “Clinical Decisions Made Beyond the Lines,” advertisers play a significant role in the success of a publication—regardless of whether the publication is in print, on radio, on television, or online. In fact, we can all think of an advertisement or a jingle from the past that reminds us of a product from a certain time in our lives. There have been many creative advertisements that have inspired most of us in some way, and if successful, the advertisement ultimately impacted us to remain loyal to the advertiser.
I've also noticed something over time relative to advertising and claims in our profession. Specifically, in my role as an educator, it seems like I am often asked questions from practitioners about marketing terms that are used with contact lenses and care solutions. I am sure you can all relate to an example of what I am talking about—it's the “contact lens incorporating extra super hyper XYZ technology” sort of verbiage to which I am referring. I understand that manufacturers want to protect proprietary information, but it seems like the patent process should allow adequately for this.
While some of these terms are somewhat insightful, others seem vague relative to actually informing you specifically about the technology and how it works. I often ask myself why this is allowable for devices (contact lenses and care solutions), whereas if you think about it, you really don't experience these sorts of phrases and terminology when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Perhaps this difference is just my perception, and it may indeed be incorrect. Or, perhaps there is actually a difference, and contact lens manufacturers are indeed following less stringent guidelines in regulatory aspects of marketing and claims between devices and drugs.
Regardless, I tend to find non-specific claims or terminology about a device somewhat bothersome. I believe that eyecare practitioners have the background and training such that they should be able to understand unique aspects of devices when adequately described by specific and proper terminology. As practitioners, we have the opportunity to critically ask “what and why” when presented with information—and I encourage you to exercise this important option.