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MEDICAL : Irvine’s T/I Pharmaceuticals Uses ‘Lethal Weapon II’ to Boost TI-Screen

Compiled by Leslie Berkman, Times staff writer

When moviegoers see “Lethal Weapon II” this summer, they may notice in one pool-side scene that actor Mel Gibson is rubbing a handful of TI-Screen on a woman’s back.

And if they are especially attentive, they may notice bottles of TI-Screen strategically dispersed among 150 extras milling about the pool and three beach bags advertising the product of T/I Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Irvine.

But in case viewers missed the message, drugstores around the country will be running special promotions and the sun screen will sport a new slogan: “TI Screen, the lethal weapon against the sun.”

T/I Pharmaceuticals’ marketing drive is being led by Lou Silverman, formerly vice president of major sales accounts for Revlon’s fragrances and cosmetics. Silverman took over the job of general manager of T/I Pharmaceuticals in February of 1988.

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Silverman declined to say how much he is paying Warner Bros. for the screen exposure. The movie promotion is only a portion of a $1.2-million advertising and marketing campaign that T/I Pharmaceuticals has budgeted for 1989. That compares to just $314,000 budgeted last year.

The company also has begun to advertise its over-the-counter cold sore medicine and skin moisturizer on radio stations and cable television stations.

Previously the company built a following for its products by relying almost entirely upon the recommendations of dermatologists.

High-profile marketing already has proven its worth, Silverman said, noting that the company’s sales more than doubled to $3.4 million in 1988 from $1.5 million the year before. “This year we are shooting for $6 million,” he said.

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