Campaign: Self-test kit grabs smokers' attention - Healthcare OTC

Campaign: Launch of Smokerlyzer

Client: Bedfont Scientific

PR Team: Hsd communications

Timescale: September 2003-August 2004

Budget: Undisclosed

Bedfont Scientific wanted to launch a consumer version of a device used by health professionals to monitor levels of carbon monoxide in smokers' bodies. Carbon monoxide exists in cigarette smoke and has been associated with increased risks of obesity, bronchitis, asthma and heart disease, as well as cosmetic defects such as grey skin and wrinkling. Hsd communications was appointed to raise awareness about the product launch, which relied solely on editorial coverage.

Objectives

To drive sales of Smokerlyzers. To generate greater understanding of the role of Smokerlyzer in a smoking cessation programme.

Strategy and Plan

The team wanted to stress that Smokerlyzers provide smokers with motivation to quit, as the devices allow smokers to monitor how their levels of carbon monoxide rise and fall according to how much they smoke.

To do this, the team needed to place the product within the context of other smoking cessation therapies. It also wanted to ensure that journalists received information about the specific problems associated with carbon monoxide from prestigious medical professionals.

The team launched the product at an educational media seminar with high-profile speakers, including This Morning's Dr Chris Steele. The seminar programme comprised a range of presentations, providing journalists with different angles on the issue.

The speakers also demonstrated the product. Journalists were provided with samples and press packs summarising the problems of carbon monoxide and demonstrating how Smokerlyzer can help people quit.

Press releases and case studies were sent to men's, women's, parenting, pregnancy, pharmaceutical and medical magazines, using tailored statistics about how carbon monoxide affects different people to suit each consumer publication. More in-depth data was sent to trade magazines.

To keep up the momentum of the campaign following the launch, the team used a series of news hooks to remind journalists about the product. These included the controversy around the public smoking ban, New Year's resolutions to quit smoking and No Smoking Day in March.

Measurement and Evaluation

Nationally, This Morning, ITV News, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mirror, The Sun and News of the World followed the story. Magazine coverage included Bella, Best, Woman's Weekly and Your Health Plus. Post-launch coverage appeared in Company, She, Health and Fitness, Top Sante and Pregnancy & Birth.

Key pharmacy and health professional titles such as Chemist & Druggist, Pharmacy Magazine, GP and Pulse covered the story.

Results

The latest figures show that sales doubled month on month in the six months after the launch, and Harrods stocked the product following demand generated by media coverage and the halo effect of the consumer PR programme.

'The campaign was well organised, well presented and memorable,' says Best acting health editor Laura Frewin. 'It could have been improved if they had sent the product with the press release, but when I asked for it they sent it promptly.'

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