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Merck: Live Long And Prosper

I am not a Trekkie. In fact, sci-fi and fantasy are two of of my least favorite genres. But the Vulcan salutation was one of the first things I thought of when I went to the facelifted Merck Web site this morning to link to and print the press release about the new Merck. (The Schering-Plough deal closed late yesterday.)

merck_ad_logo_200.jpg

What reminded me of Star Trek was the new corporate tagline, "Be well."

It used to be "Patients come first."

I don't know what was wrong with that one besides maybe being a bit tired. I'm assuming patients still do come first, but they've apparently taken at least a branding back seat now to "Be well."

Separately, I wonder if there's gonna be any kind of legal conflict with MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman's Web site called, yep, Be Well.

Merck advertisement
Source: Wall Street Journal
Merck advertisement

And, of course, what would day one of a mega-merger be without a full-page newspaper ad?

I don't get why companies feel obligated to spend however much money on such campaigns (Pfizer is still running a big ad in this week's Barron's) especially when one of their first actions upon closure of a deal is to hand out pink slips.

I can't imagine that those who are being let go appreciate staring at expensive, happy ads all over the place touting how great the new company will be without them. But what do I know?

Pfizer put babies in its Pfizer-Wyeth ads.

Merck's going with a kid and the bizarre line, "Catch a case of the giggles."

Huh?

The updated website homepage is chockfull of eye candy and other new slogans featured in a pretty slick slideshow.

Among them: "More paths to pursue our passion." "Providing free medicines to more Americans." "A shining example of environmental commitment." But I also found a glaring grammatical error on the one that features an African village photo: "Helping to protecting (sic) the sight of future generations." Oops! How did that happen? By the time you check it out, I'm betting it might already be corrected.

Merck's website used to be very bland, boring and stodgy. Behemoth pharmaceutical companies are trying to create the image of being more like younger, hipper biotech. The challenge for Merck and its competitors is to actually become more like biotech.

Update: It took a couple of hours since Pharma's Market brought it to their attention, but they've fixed the Merck homepage error. It now says, "Helping to protect the sight of future generations." My bill is in the mail (kidding).

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman