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diabetes supplement

Becton Dickinson

By David Mendosa

Last Update: March 1, 1998

How about a commercial Web site that instead of giving you a pitch for its products wants to give you something? If this appeals to you, check out the BD Diabetes Village.

‘It takes a village to treat diabetes.’

The site's sponsor, Becton Dickinson and Company in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, makes and sells a broad line of medical supplies and devices and diagnostic systems. BD, as its familiarly known, is a huge worldwide company with revenue of $2.8 billion last year. A relatively small part of its sales comes from its syringes, insulin pens, lancets, and needles that people with diabetes use.

Go to the site's Gift Store. If you register by signing the on-line guest book, BD will send a gift of its B-D Delicious Desserts Cook Booklet. Anna Loyeva, BD's associate marketing manager for diabetes health care, says that about one-third of visitors to the site register for the gift. "We will be updating this from time to time and changing the gift to other interesting things," she says.

Even if cookbooks aren't your thing, a visit to the BD Diabetes Village should be worthwhile. The site is attractively presented and takes advantage of Macromedia's Shockwave advanced technology for an interactive "Myth versus Fact" quiz and an animation showing the procedure for injecting insulin. You have the option of using a "non-shocked" version.

"The idea behind this image is that it takes a village to treat diabetes," Ms. Loyeva says. "It is not just a person problem. It is a community problem and it takes professionals and educators and family as well as companies that product products."

The sections of the site consist of a house, teaching hospital, library, pharmacy, car, gift store, food store, news stand, gazebo, hall of fame, and pets. More visitors to go to the house than to any other part of the site, Ms. Loyeva says. And obviously the gift store is popular.

"We also get a lot of response from the pet section," she says. She says to click on the animated dog, which they call "Sadie," to read letters from pet lovers that they are putting on the site.

BD has gone out of its way to make the information on the Diabetes Village site easy to understand. That's important, Ms. Loyeva says, because even though educated people use the Internet, many of us don't understand medical terminology.

"We write our materials at about the 6th grade level," Ms. Loyeva explains. "I see that as really useful."

The BD Diabetes Village is "a friendly reminder that diabetes is a disease to be taken care of and that BD is there to help them," she says. "It is mostly about education—how to take care of diabetes. The graphics and everything else came from that. There was no idea to aggressively promote the products."

It's nice to come upon such a soft sell. BD's idea was to be friendly to consumers, and it works. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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