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Swine Flu: One Man's Pandemic is Another Man's Marketing Opportunity

Posted by: Burth Helm on April 27, 2009

blog swineflu.jpgMexico has warned against swine flu-related advertising, but here in the U.S. companies big and small are tapping into swine flu fear to sell products. Googling “Swine Flu Pandemic” on April 27 showed sponsored links purchased by everyone from surgical mask distributor Hub Surgical, to a Biblical prophecy site, to GoJo, the company that makes hand sanitizer Purell. GoJo even recorded a YouTube video to go with a special swine flu section of its website.

Meanwhile small-time entrepreneurs are erecting swine-flu themed websites., registered on April 25, sells Tamiflu to treat the sickness via an online pharmacy called Health Solutions Network. It’s run by Justin Martone of Tom’s River, NJ, who runs the site along with, which sells Persian rugs, and online marketing consultancy The idea, says Martone, is to get medications to people without doctors or insurance. “With the recent news about the swine flu…I got the idea that these people may well need this sort of service,” he says. So far Martone says he’s received between 20 and 40 orders.

Another site is (“The ?Pandemic? of 2009 – Are you prepared?” it reads), which went up April 27. The site is a swine flu news and information hub that also points visitors toward buying surgical masks, latex gloves, or hand santizers at James Crenshaw, of Brandon, Mississippi, runs the site and receives a commission for any sales, but he says it’s only a side business while he works on a novel, entitled “The Real,” which he’s writing under the pen name James Cole. “I’m interested in helping people with this, it’s not just about making money here.” says Crenshaw. “If this one is as bad as [the 1918 flu epidemic], this thing could explode in a couple weeks. That’s why I threw up this site last night.”

Niche makers of antiviral medicines, disinfectants, and vaccines are getting the word out as well, while seeing shares of their stock soar on Monday. Can’t knock the hustle, right?

Reader Comments


April 30, 2009 3:30 AM

I think these companies are responding in the right way. This is a great opportunity to build up brand image. By showing they care, their company will be remembered after the flu.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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