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The Marketing World Gears Up Quickly For Swine Flu

I wasn't paying the swine flu stories a whole lot of attention, frankly, but a doctor and author I respect mentioned to me yesterday that, in his experience, medical authorities tend to underhype stories like this. As a result, I've been on the lookout for breaking news this morning. And one thing you can count on is that marketers and Cable TV never underhype anything. And The World Health Organization has, of course, upgraded its pandemic alert to Phase 5 -- the second-highest level -- as concern spreads globally, NPR reports.

My quest began, really, when I saw a retweet by New York Times media columnist David Carr's (@carr2n) of an item by the Minneapolis Star Tribune's James Lileks (@Lileks), who wrote last night: "Hit seven stores looking for face masks. (For newspaper column.) All sold out." A video piece Lileks did with the S-T's medical reporter, Josephine Marcotty, however, would suggest that folks are overreacting in that midwestern city. (Lileks, who blogs here, is also the author of books such as "Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery."

Before I could tear apart the basement for masks left over from my attic remodeling project, a press release landed in my in-box touting "FLU Fashion Respirators." "New! Just in time for Swine FLU season," the site tells us. "Now you can look great and breathe the air with maximum protection." The copy comes with a reference to an academic study that says that a N95 medical grade respirator of this type works well when fitted properly -- an admittedly "big if.




Read the whole story at NPR, Minneapolis Star Tribune, @Lileks, »

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