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Would Native Ads for Embattled Sleep Aids Earn an A or a ZzzzzPublic perceptions of sleep aids have taken a beating in recent years, but NativeMobile has learned a major ad agency wants to give that a rest.

True, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids are popular with Americans who are obsessed with pills, liquids, and other ingestibles that promise a good night’s sleep.

No wonder. Nearly 9 million U.S. adults take prescription sleep aids, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or sleep deprivation. And only a third of Americans get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, says the CDC.

It wasn’t just Patrick Kennedy (former U.S. representative from Rhode Island) crashing his Ford Mustang into a traffic barrier near Capitol Hill — and blaming it in large measure on the sleep aid Ambien — that opened the criticism floodgates.

Numerous studies now resonate in the ears of consumers who are finally awakening to the reality that many sleep aids may be causing more harm than good. From limiting critically important REM sleep to causing a more horrendous form of rebound insomnia once the meds are discontinued, sleep aids now find themselves battling a public perception problem much like energy drinks.

We bring all this up because NativeMobile was briefed this week by a knowledgeable industry source who claims a major ad agency is proposing native advertising as a solution. The agency reportedly reached out to the makers of Zzzquill, Lunesta, and other OTC sleep aids with a proposal to publish hard-hitting, fact-driven articles (sponsored posts) designed to dispel some of the biggest allegations about the dangers of sleep aids.

We haven’t heard whether any of the major sleep aid makers are going to go for it. But we have been told that in-house marketing teams have already been tasked with creating such a marketing campaign (the creative can’t be commandeered by an outside agency due to the potential exposure of propriety research and data verifying the safety and effectiveness of the drugs).

We’ll stay awake to report on this story. In the meantime, we do know this. When it comes to marketing and countering negative public perceptions: “if you snooze, you lose.”

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