CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs - Cyclist’s story inspires hope

Client: Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York)

Client: Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York)

Client: Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York)

PR Team: Spectrum Science (Washington, DC)

Campaign: Cycle of Hope

Time Frame: February to July 2000

Budget: dollars 710,000 (dollars 200,000 fee; balance for production and

out-of-pocket expenses)

Four years ago, world champion cyclist Lance Armstrong didn’t think he’d

be alive to help his teammates on the US cycling team defend its title

on the grueling 2,500-mile Tour de France, a 22-day race along some of

the steepest roads in the world.

But Armstrong’s story has been a miracle. A competitive athlete all his

life, he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer in 1996 at age

25. He was given only a 50% chance of survival. He underwent aggressive

chemotherapy with drugs produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb. ’Had these

drugs not been in existence, I wouldn’t be alive,’ he has said.

Armstrong launched the Cycle of Hope, a national cancer education

campaign supported by his own foundation and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Spectrum Science, one of Bristol-Myers’ agencies, was given the

assignment to develop a campaign to tell Armstrong’s story and to help

patients experience the same kind of positive treatment he did.


The campaign was targeted at all cancer patients and their


B-MS wanted to ensure that sufferers pursued all options for care, and

to empower them with the information to ask the right questions.

The messages focused on Armstrong’s positive attitude and determination

to recover. They also conveyed the importance of early detection and

attempted to help people overcome their fear of cancer. Spectrum found

that there was no one place where the public could find a wide range of

answers and interact with people in similar situations.


A large component of the campaign was built around the project’s Web

site ( Not only could information be disseminated

from there, but cancer patients would have a forum where they could talk

to each other and share experiences. The campaign launched in February

in New York, with a PSA broadcast on the NBC Astrovision screen in Times

Square. Additionally, bicycle messengers in several cities distributed

postcards with a ’Message of Hope’ signed by Armstrong. Kits, posters,

postcards and a wheel with risks, symptoms and screenings for the most

common cancer types were produced for use among audiences.


Even with such a high-profile messenger, the results continue to be


The media campaign included appearances on NBC’s Today, Live With Regis

and Kathy Lee and CBS’s 60 Minutes II.

The TV PSAs, which by mid-June had aired on 175 stations, resulted in

278 million audience impressions. The Web site has generated nearly

400,000 hits with an average visit of close to seven minutes. Nearly 600

kits have been requested through the Web site and more than 900 through

the toll-free number.

A VNR was picked up by about 70 stations, resulting in an audience of 45

million viewers. Print stories reached another 11 million readers.


Besides gracing the sports pages every day during the race, Armstrong is

being featured in NBC promos leading up to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney,

where he will compete for a gold medal.

Kouten says that while no budget or plan has yet been allocated for

2000-2001, the campaign is really just beginning, and B-MS has signed

another contract with Armstrong.

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