Aspirin hits 100 for Bayer
Client: Bayer Corp. Consumer Care Division
PR team: Golin/Harris International
Campaign: 'The Timeless Wonder Drug'
Time frame: August, 1997 - March, 1999.
Bayer mounted a series of special events to mark the respective 100th anniversaries of the discovery of aspirin by a Bayer chemist and the advent of the Bayer brand. While August 10, 1997 marked the date aspirin was discovered, PR activities will continue through the brand's anniversary on March 6, 1999.
The PR team realized that the media is bored with anniversaries that focus on nostalgia, so they focused on differentiating aspirin's unique difference from other pain relievers - its ability to save lives (low doses of aspirin taken daily have recently been proven to lower the risk of heart attack). 'We didn't want to focus on aspirin's age,' says Greg French, vice president at Golin/Harris, Washington, DC. 'We wanted to communicate aspirin's timelessness, how it's been proven safe and effective and also has an exciting future with new research and emerging uses.' To formulate the strategy, Golin/Harris benchmarked several successful anniversary celebrations and identified a number of common elements. These included: a wide range of vintage photography and advertising; a point in time for focusing the celebration; a logo or icon and slogan that conveys the nature of the campaign; and information that influences the direction of media coverage, yet allows media to easily customize the data to meet their individualized needs.
Events were chosen as the main way to get the message across. A VNR led the way, followed by a long-lead editors' event held in June at Chelsea Pier, a trendy New York health club, chiefly for health and women's magazines.
Experts such as renowned cardiologist Dr. Debra Judelson, were brought in to discuss women's unique pain needs and the amazing new uses of aspirin.
In November, physicians from around the world attended a gala dinner celebrating the anniversary and Bayer's annual Aspirin Awards for pre-eminent aspirin research. The ceremony was held at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City across the Hudson River from New York City. Bayer donated $100,000 to the science center in honor of the anniversary. TV star Robert Urich, a former Bayer spokesman, talked about the miracles of modern medicine and his own personal struggles with a rare form of cancer.
Although results are still coming in, already there have been in excess of 500 million media impressions, with more than 400 TV placements and nearly 700 print placements. Sales responded accordingly. The percentage of Bayer-brand's share of the analgesic market grew to 6.4 percent from 5.8 percent, while sales from September to December 1997 increased an average of 12 percent, helping Bayer achieve its largest market share since the early 1990s.
The key to the campaign's 'incredible' success was the initial benchmarking of other anniversary campaigns, the PR team agrees. If given the budget, he would have made the campaign last all year, admits French. Most surprising and satisfying was the media's initial cynicism to another anniversary story, quickly followed by intense interest. The trick was in positioning aspirin as a 'miracle drug' that 'affects more people and saves more lives than any other drug,' he adds.
Tanks roll into Congress
Client: Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (bill sponsor)
PR team: His congressional press office
Campaign: H.R. 859 - Plumbing Standards Improvement Act Time Frame:
March 1997 to present
Running a successful legislative PR campaign is like flushing a 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) toilet: it takes several tries to get the job done. That trouble with toilets explains why a Detroit-area U.S. Representative, Joseph Knollenberg (Republican-Michigan), decided to sponsor H.R. 859, the Plumbing Standards Improvement Act. Critics say the Congress stepped into some deep do-do when it passed 1992's Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which included a provision to require new, more expensive 1.6 gpf toilets in new homes and offices. That's less than half the capacity of the old standard toilet.
Knollenberg considers the 1.6 gpf figure arbitrary and unscientific.
Plumbing manufacturers had only eighteen months to comply with the regulation, and the first generations of new toilets were unarguably inefficient.
A black market in Canadian toilets developed. Knollenberg introduced his bill to eliminate the regulation in March 1997. Eventually, the bill was changed to let engineers from the American National Standards Institute determine sufficient toilet capacity.
Many bills are introduced in the House every year. Most die before they receive a hearing in a committee, much less a floor vote by the House.
Knollenberg's staff, including communications director Frank Maisano, believed this bill would really hit home with people. He launched a multi-faceted 'earned media' campaign aimed at: conservative media; professional contractor publications; home improvement newspaper sections and radio and TV shows; and regulatory writers. 'Earned media' is the 'inside the Beltway' term for unpaid media publicity generated by PR. The politicos reasoned that if enough people knew about H.R. 859, they'd generate the grassroots support needed to make House members sign on as co-sponsors of the bill. Co-sponsorship is an important measure that usually determines which bills receive serious consideration.
Phone calls and faxes, postage stamps and perseverance in pitching the bill and the story behind it made the difference. The Washington Post featured the issue in its business section's regulatory column on March 21, 1997, and built momentum for the bill. AP picked up the story that same day. Knollenberg then appeared the day after on Glenn Haege's nationally syndicated 'Ask the Handyman' radio show. Haege requested listeners and readers of his column send toilet paper with the message 'Get the government out of my toilet. Vote for H.R. 859.' Other syndicated talk show hosts, including G. Gordon Liddy, picked up the story.
Knollenberg's office started receiving letters and toilet paper supporting the bill. Maisano sent out packets and letters to the news media to generate further interest. A break occurred when humorist Dave Barry expressed interest in the bill in a syndicated column. Barry joked H.R. 859 had two shortcomings: it was popular and it made sense.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post were among the newspapers that eventually wrote about the bill. National Public Radio, CNN, The McLaughlin Group, and 20/20 also discussed the issue.
And for the ultimate publicity coup, how about getting mentioned on TV's popular Home Improvement sitcom, set right in a Detroit-area district?
Knollenberg hoped to get the bill considered for Corrections Day, the one time a year when the House votes to eliminate inconsequential regulations.
That plan failed, partly because of opposition from the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute. The campaign's populist appeal continues to make its impact felt, however. Seventy-six Congressmen had signed on as co-sponsors by the end of the session.
Maisano, now with Potomac Communications, says the issue provides a 'unique' story with 'a humorous angle and a serious one'. H.R. 859's backers may not have won, yet, but the process continues.
Citrus board fights cancer
Client: Florida Dept. of Citrus
PR team: Golin/Harris Chicago
Campaign: 'Fight Cancer, Fight Harder'
Time frame: 1998
The Florida Dept. of Citrus (FDOC) is using an effective and ongoing PR campaign to increase its market share. At the same time, by partnering with the American Cancer Society (ACS), the two organizations are increasing public awareness that drinking orange juice is preventive medicine for fighting some forms of cancer.
The separate PR effort evolved from a larger marketing campaign which began with the FDOC announcing they were linking with three partners, the ACS, March of Dimes and American Heart Association.
'Our partnership with the ACS allowed them to maximize their public education program on the role of diet in cancer,' said Ivy Leventhal, marketing communications director for FDOC. 'One third of all cancer is diet-related and the ACS had only a specific amount of funding available.' Orange juice contains the right stuff for the prevention of cancer because a high fibre, low fat diet that is rich in fruits is believed to help lower the risk of cancer, the FDOC claims.
The campaign used all forms of media, including two celebrity spokespersons, print and video news releases, satellite public service announcements, and magazine interviews in food, women's and men's publications. Brochures were developed containing recipes that were good for fighting cancer.
Media included The New York Post, both Chicago dailies, NBC Nightside, UPI Radio and Radio America.
The 'Fight Cancer, Fight Harder' slogan was printed on 80 different orange juice labels and, surprisingly, on several brands of milk. This publicity resulted through cooperation with private label packagers of milk rather than dairy marketers, with whom OJ competes. FDOC and ACS did all of this with an annual budget that has never topped $400,000.
Tennis player Pete Sampras and actress Lauren Bacall were the campaign's celebrity spokespeople. Bacall lost a husband, Humphry Bogart, to cancer and Sampras had recently lost his coach to the disease. 'Ms. Bacall even made appearances overseas for us,' reports Leventhal. The two stars might make other appearances on behalf of orange juice in the near future, she hints.
FDOC's partnerships with three health associations was 'groundbreaking,' claims Leventhal, and the citrus body was the first food purveyor to partner with the ACS. The results exceeded her expectations.
Prior to the campaign, approximately 8% of those polled realized that drinking orange juice could help lower the risk of cancer. Today that figure is up to 29%.
The campaign generated 210 million media impressions, reports Ryan Mardiks, general manager at Golin/Harris Chicago. 'This was a fully integrated effort where PR took the lead in communicating our central message,' says Mardiks. 'It was successful because of the credibility of PR.'
The celebrity PSAs and leveraging the ACS relationship were key aspects of the campaign, which won the PR firm's 'best of office' award for the year, says Mardiks. According to FDOC's Leventhal, 'The results speak for themselves and the campaign is destined to become an integrated, annual classic.' The partners and their PR counsel expect the 'Fight Cancer, Fight Harder' campaign, now in its third year, to continue indefinitely.
The PR team is now finalizing plans for 1999.
Visa turns kids on to reading
Client: Visa U.S.A.
PR team: Ketchum/San Francisco
Campaign: 'Read Me a Story'
Time frame: 1996 - present
Budget: Not available
To increase literacy among children and encourage parents to read to their kids, Visa U.S.A. ran a holiday promotion in 1996 and 1997. The campaign was extended by a further 10 months, starting in August, 1998, and will end in May, 1999. It urges financial institutions that issue Visa cards, and participating merchants, to hold readings. Visa donated $2.5 million to Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), a nonprofit literacy organization for children, as a result of the'96 and '97 campaigns.
All of the campaigns help address America's reading crisis and motivate Visa cardholders to make charge purchases. Visa depends on more than 21,000 member financial institutions and thousands of merchants to relay promotional programs to its huge customer base. Gaining support for the program from banking and merchant partners is another of Visa's objectives for these programs.
Research showed that more than 40% of fourth graders read below the basic level for their grade and that only half of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by their parents. Visa approached RIF, America's oldest and largest nonprofit children's literacy organization, to create the program in 1996. Visa pledged a $1 million donation to RIF, funded as a portion of credit card charges each year during the holiday promotion period. The company has pledged $300,000 to RIF in the current drive.
The first two campaigns featured celebrity spokespeople and a troupe of storybook characters who performed a professionally staged and choreographed musical extravaganza in cities around the country. In 1996, Danny Glover, an actor known for his support of children's causes, kicked off a national tour with a reading in New York City. Featuring characters such as Mother Goose, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan, the Visa show toured 61 cities in '96 covering 15,000 miles via bus. Community leaders, NFL players and RIF volunteers read children stories at these events. In six cities, Visa leveraged its official sponsorship of the National Football League to have stories read during pre-game or half-time activities, witnessed by more than 300,000 fans.
Visa presented RIF with a $1 million check at half-time during a Monday Night Football game in San Francisco.
In 1997, ER's Anthony Edwards and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced the program in Washington DC. Visa also introduced the 'Read Me a Story' Reading Checkup Guide in English and Spanish. Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the guide was distributed through pediatricians' offices and through the 'Read Me a Story' web site. The storybook characters conducted three simultaneous tours in 67 cities in 59 days. Cartoon character Clifford the dog also performed in the traveling show.
'It was like a rock concert for kids,' said Ketchum's Jennifer Quermann.
'When the kids saw Clifford, they got so excited and so excited about reading.' A comprehensive promotion kit enabled RIF volunteers, bank marketers and merchants to stage their own story-reading events. Each kit contained 'Reading Aloud' brochures, bookmarks, posters, stickers, tally sheets and age-appropriate books. Merchants promoted the program with statement inserts and signage and gave away more than 63,000 brand new books.
In two years, Visa has contributed $2.5 million to RIF; more than four million stories have been read to children; and more than seven million copies of the Reading Checkup Guide have been distributed. In the first year, 'Read Me a Story' received nearly 105 million broadcast and print impressions and garnered 207 million impressions in 1997. It also earned Silver Anvil awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for both years. The '97 program won the San Francisco PRSA Chapter's Best of Show, IABC's Award of Merit, Inside PR Magazine's CIPRA award and the Women Executives in Public Relations Social Responsibility Award.
'Visa is proud to continue a program that we believe will truly make a difference for our children and our nation's future,' stated Visa USA president & CEO Carl Pascarella.
Visa will make a $300,000 minimum contribution to RIF in 1999. Why the scaled down donation? Visa has passed along the program's local implementation to its financial institution partners and merchants, who can tie in with the promotion at any time during the school year. Besides sponsoring readings, the partners are distributing the bilingual reading guide. Visa is suggesting they promote the literacy program via cardholder statement inserts, point of purchase signage and special reading events and activities. There's no road show this year. Consumers can go to www.visa.com/readme to download the guide in English.