Merck hops onto HBCU network to step up its brand in the African-American community

You can't accuse Merck ($MRK) of ignoring diversity. The drugmaker's marketing team is adding another arrow to its quiver of community-oriented campaigns: a partnership with HBCU Connect, a niche media network targeting alumni and students of historically black colleges and universities.

The drugmaker is working with HBCU Connect to offer health advice and information via a dedicated microsite. It's essentially a broadly based awareness push that puts Merck's name in front of a specific target group. On the home page, a banner proclaims that the site is sponsored by MerckEngage.

With 1.5 million followers on its own site--plus Twitter and Facebook--HBCU offers Merck a solid audience for its targeted content. The group doesn't soft-pedal the effort with altruistic protestations, either. It's a business deal that gives Merck a chance to show its stuff with HBCU members--and profit from it, albeit indirectly.

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