CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Big fat PR for new antiobesity drug

Client: PacificHealth Laboratories (Woodbridge, NJ)

Client: PacificHealth Laboratories (Woodbridge, NJ)

Client: PacificHealth Laboratories (Woodbridge, NJ)

PR Team: Alan Taylor Communications (New York)

Campaign: Satietrol Launch

Time Frame: March 15 to June 15, 2000

Budget: Less than dollars 50,000

Although (perhaps because) more than half of US adults are overweight,

and nearly one-quarter are obese, the market is saturated with

antiobesity products and services. Without a multimillion-dollar budget

to support a nationwide ad campaign or a celebrity spokesperson, how can

a new product voice its message?


For its antiobesity drug Satietrol, PacificHealth Laboratories started

by leveraging scientific testing and clinical trials to drive people to

its Web site. Today, a product is only as strong as its clinical trial

results, and this is where Satietrol shines, says Mark Beal, executive

VP at Alan Taylor Communications, PacificHealth Laboratories’ agency of


Studies conducted at major medical institutions suggest that Satietrol

works by stimulating cholecystokinin, the body’s natural

appetite-control mechanism. ’If you take it an hour before you eat, you

will get a feeling of satiety - thus the name,’ Beal says. And because

one of the key ingredients is found in potato extract, it provided a

hook for the PR campaign.


At the time of the launch, consumers could purchase the product only

from a Web site ( A combination of local market

public relations, a satellite and radio media tour, a VNR and a special

event got the message out. Instead of targeting the entire country, the

strategy was to create a groundswell by focusing efforts on the ’10

Fattest Cities.’ Extra concentration occurred in Philadelphia, the

fattest city.

’The first phase was designed to create awareness in a crowded market

with an already high noise level,’ says Dr. Robert Portman, president

and CEO of PacificHealth Laboratories.

The Philadelphia attack included arranging interviews with a doctor who

tested the product, medical reporters at every TV station (including

major talk shows such as Good Day Philadelphia), more than 12 radio

stations and the major dailies. Following Philadelphia, the doctor gave

interviews to TV and radio stations in the nine other ’fattest’


Phase three included a nationally distributed VNR about the science

behind Satietrol and the potato extract. Next, a special event in New

York featured an army of people dressed as giant potatoes accompanying

former Olympian Mike Gostigian, who potato sacked his way across


The group made live appearances on a variety of TV talk shows and radio



’We started to appear on the (media’s) radar screen,’ Portman says.

More than 300 TV stories aired on network affiliates across the


National broadcast coverage included the Today show, Fox & Friends and

several syndicated radio programs. Major national newspapers picked up

the story from AP and Gannett features.

Media coverage drove more than 100,000 consumers to the Web site during

the first four weeks of the program. Many purchased the product.

Additionally, editorial play reached decision makers at key retail

outlets, which now sell the product. ’Eight leading Internet retailers -

including, and - now carry

Satietrol, and we just completed a successful market test in GNC stores

in the Philadelphia area,’ Portman says. GNC will launch the drug

nationally in September.


’The future is two-fold,’ Beal says. ’We will target the medical

community and make them aware of this product, and secondly, because the

product will be available nationally through GNC, we will work on

driving the consumer to the retail outlets.’

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