Social media, celebrities factor into COPD campaign

RIDGEFIELD, CT: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals launched its largest unbranded campaign as it aims to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

RIDGEFIELD, CT: Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals launched its largest unbranded campaign as it aims to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The integrated campaign is using celebrities and a partnership with Nascar to drive interest in the program with people who are at least 35 years old and have a history of smoking, said Emily Baier, manager of PR for Boehringer Ingelheim (BI).

The company makes several medicines that treat respiratory diseases like COPD.

“We know how little general knowledge there is about this disease,” Baier said. “It's the fourth leading cause of death and most people don't even know what it stands for.”

At the heart of the “Drive4COPD” campaign is an interactive microsite that includes a five-question screening test. The goal is to screen one million people for COPD in 2010, she added.

To drive people to the microsite, BI also launched a Facebook fan page and Twitter feed for the campaign. The company also plans to tap into partnerships with the American Lung Association and COPD Foundation to generate interest in local screening events in 14 cities this month.

“One of the things we're excited about is the huge social media component,” she said. “We've certainly never done anything of this size unbranded.”

The celebrity partners, which include Nascar driver Danica Patrick, actor Jim Belushi, Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, country musician Patty Loveless, and former NFL-pro Michael Strahan, will also be attending the events.

“We're hitting a lot of different demographics with the celebrities we're working with, which is intentional,” said Baier. She noted that video from the events will be added to the campaign's YouTube channel.

Biosector 2, which was hired in fall 2009 following a competitive bid, is providing support on the campaign, said Baier. She declined to provide the budget for the effort.

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