Merck taps celeb chef to deliver diabetes message to Hispanics

Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Back in April, Merck ($MRK) rolled out its America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals campaign. It's a typical Type 2 diabetes effort, aimed at persuading patients to do what it takes to keep their blood sugar in check. Now, Merck has a new-but-similar campaign launching, but with a tighter focus: the Hispanic community, which is disproportionately affected by the disease.

To get its message across to the demographic, the pharma giant teamed up with celebrity chef and cookbook author Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, who has a family history of Type 2 diabetes. Schwartz will visit select cities to cook diabetes-friendly Latin recipes and encourage Hispanics to set and attain blood sugar level targets. Surprisingly enough, it's among the few pharma efforts aimed at the key Latino market.

Merck is going where its pharma peers haven't gone much lately. While Hispanics in the U.S. stand at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults, few marketing campaigns have been aimed directly at that patient pool--or at the Hispanic population in general. Compared with other industries, pharma is "so far behind" when it comes to Hispanic marketing, Linda Lane Gonzalez, chair-elect of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing, told FiercePharmaMarketing.

"They definitely have the money to put behind a budget that would be very effective, but I don't really know why they're not doing it," she said. "I wish I had an answer." Read more in FiercePharmaMarketing >>