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Merck plays up consumer products in new campaign

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) -- Merck & Co. is playing up its consumer-product division with a new ad campaign focusing on active families.

Called the "Active Family Project," the campaign features a website, Facebook page and other social and digital media aimed at moms to help promote healthy lifestyles.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of ABC's morning talk show "The View," is the campaign's spokeswoman, the Whitehouse Station, N.J., company said Monday.

Merck, the third-largest drugmaker, has been hurt by new generic competition like many other drugmakers, particularly for its top-selling asthma drug, Singulair. To offset that, Merck has been playing up its consumer product side. The new campaign is the first major campaign to promote its consumer products, which include Coppertone sunscreen, Dr. Scholl's shoes and shoe inserts, and Claritin over-the-counter allergy medication.

In its most recent quarter, Merck's revenue fell 9 percent, hurt by generic competition and the stronger dollar. But the company's consumer products revenue rose 3 percent. Merck inherited the consumer products brands when it bought Shering-Plough Corp. in 2009, and this is the first comprehensive ad campaign for the unit.

Media spending on the campaign was undisclosed. The Facebook page and website activefamilyproject.com will offer healthy tips, family activity ideas, and other advice.

Merck shares slipped 42 cents to $45.24 in midday trading.

Online: activefamilyproject.com.