The state's lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson recently reached its third week of not-so-riveting testimony. To help make the case that Oklahoma needs as much money as possible to fight the damage done by the Johnson & Johnson's opioid marketing efforts, the state called "marketing expert" Renzi Stone – an up-and-coming member of the state's ruling class – to post-up in the witness stand to tell the court exactly what they wanted to hear.
It would take a nearly $285 million marketing effort to counteract the impact of a highly sophisticated marketing campaign that opioid manufacturers used to ramp up sales of their painkillers in Oklahoma, the head of an Oklahoma City advertising agency testified Monday.
Renzi Stone, chairman and chief executive officer of Saxum Strategic Communications, said his estimate only included the marketing cost of an abatement campaign and did not include other anticipated costs such as treatment for addiction. The abatement marketing plan Stone proposed would take 20 years, he said.
Wow. Way to go, Renzi! I guess it's safe to say that nominating himself for all those 40 Under 40 Achiever Influencer Innovator awards that local publications dish out so they can make a few extra bucks in ad revenue each year really paid off! Sure, I can't really name you any of Saxum's clients or anything the company's done to really stand out in the local advertising and PR scene, but that doesn't matter. In the marketing and advertising field, it's not what you do, it's who you know. As a result, Renzi is now a member of the OU Board of Regents and gets to testify as a "marketing expert" in trials where the outcome is already likely determined. I have to admit, I am a bit jealous.
Stone's testimony Monday came on Day 10 of Oklahoma's multibillion dollar public nuisance lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries. The companies are accused of engaging in false or misleading marketing practices that helped cause thousands of opioid-related overdose deaths and addictions.
During the Johnson & Johnson trial Monday, Stone testified he was extremely impressed with the comprehensiveness and complexity of Johnson & Johnson's marketing efforts in the state.
"This is a very sophisticated, awesome marketing plan," he said. "The sales effort was very successful."
Stone said the purpose of an abatement plan marketing effort would be to spread the word that opioids are dangerous drugs that need to be carefully and safely prescribed.
I'm not a marketing expert or anything – I only spent six years working as a business unit marketing manager for the world's largest medical lab – but do we really need to spend $240-million to tell people opioids are dangerous drugs that need to be carefully and safely prescribed? Even TSET thinks that's a bit excessive! If you don't know opioids are dangerous by now, I don't think a full-page ad designed by Saxum and placed in The Oklahoma at a full list rate will be the thing that gets through to you.
That being said, I won't complain too much if some of the money earned from the lawsuit is spent on local marketing efforts. Mike Hunter's lawyer friends aren't the only people in this state who should get to profit from the opioid epidemic! The local advertising and publishing industry deserves a piece of the pie, too. Maybe I should donate to AG Mike Hunter's campaign so we can get a taste?