PR Team: Personal Products Company, a division of McNeil-PPC (Skillman,
NJ) and Burson-Marsteller (New York)
Campaign: Uristat "Best Places to Pee for Free"
Time Frame: January 2002 - ongoing
Budget: over $150,000
More than 7 million women in the US suffer from urinary tract infections (UTI) each year, and about one out of every three women will have at least one painful encounter with a UTI before the age of 24. Failing to stay hydrated and not urinating when the need arises are two leading causes of these infections.
Personal Products did a survey earlier this year to promote its over-the-counter pain medication for UTIs, Uristat. The survey showed that more than 70% of women do not go to the bathroom when they need to because they are either too busy or they cannot find a public bathroom that they are comfortable using.
Although there are several causes of UTIs, "not going is the one that is often not discussed. "We wanted to do something that was interactive and humorous, but also educational, says Lisa Kovitz, managing director of brand marketing for Burson-Marsteller. "While every woman may not know that retaining urine for long periods of time can cause painful UTIs, most have a set of public restrooms in their city that they know they can count on being clean and safe."
In search of a way to reach a broad audience on a local level, the Uristat team partnered with Citysearch.com and ran a sweepstakes on the site.
Located at uristat.citysearch.com, the entry form called for women to indicate their favorite public bathroom anywhere in the country. By entering the sweepstakes, each woman had a chance to win a weekend for two at a day spa in Boca Raton, FL. "This was an excellent way to get the message across that you have to pee when you have the urge for a real health reason, explains Kovitz.
Following the announcement of the sweepstakes winner, Burson kicked off a radio media tour featuring women's travel expert Marybeth Bond, who shared general information about the importance of women urinating when they have to. She also spoke about the nearby top-ranking bathrooms, depending on the local market of each station at which she spoke. "Knowing where to find these restrooms is particularly important in cities where you walk instead of drive - even more so if you are traveling with children, says Bond.
Kim O'Leary, a bookkeeper from North East, PA, was chosen as the winner.
Her name and favorite public place to pee - the Ohio/Pennsylvania rest area on the Westbound side - was posted on Citysearch's website, along with the other top 20 bathroom choices. Those places were also given plaques announcing that they were chosen for their winning bathrooms, creating photo opportunities for local media.
The contest received over 17,000 entries, and the radio media tour hit stations in Seattle, Portland, OR, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee, among other cities. O'Leary was interviewed by her local newspaper and radio station in Erie, PA, and Burson is in the process of pitching follow-up stories to travel reporters, lifestyle reporters, columnists, and the writing staffs at several TV shows.
Of the 17,000 entries, over 5,000 indicated they'd like to receive more information about Uristat.
No specific plans for future Uristat campaigns are in place as of yet, although Kovitz says, "'Pee for Free' has a lot of legs to it. We had one winning moment, but we touched a lot of people."
Mentioning the possibility of capitalizing on the many bathrooms in the Las Vegas area that women specified as their favorite, Kovitz points out that the campaign has the potential to be continually successful by taking on new shapes in various parts of the country.