ALLENDALE, NJ: Seinfeld might have bought the Today Sponge a place in pop culture, but the team re-launching the contraceptive device wasn't about to let a sit-com define its product.
Allendale Pharmaceuticals is working with AOR Widmeyer Communications to capitalize on the "spongeworthy" buzz, while still making sure that serious messages aren't lost in the hype.
"Seinfeld really did popularize the Today Sponge and helped propel the issue," said Henry Engleka, VP and group director at Widmeyer. "We needed to make sure that it didn't just take off in a humorous way."
Outreach efforts began almost a year ago, and included market research, launching the todaysponge.com website, media training, and a "branding summit" for the company's executives and investors.
Allendale CEO Gene Detroyer noted that the company is spending between $6-7 million on both PR and advertising.
"The name has pretty good awareness among women," Detroyer said. "It's really about getting the facts out there. We don't want to treat it lightly."
The company must now address concerns about the sponge's efficacy rate (which is lower than condoms) and the removal difficulties that some women have experienced.
Engleka noted that some of the efficacy statistics in the media are misleading, and the PR team is working to correct inaccuracies in news stories.
He acknowledged that no small component of the outreach would involve teaching women and healthcare providers about how the sponge works. "The company's committed to conducting a public education campaign for the sponge," Engleka said.
But Detroyer noted, "I wasn't surprised with the volume of the media coverage. What really surprised me was how positive the coverage was."
Detroyer noted that the next target for the campaign is getting into articles that educate women about all of their contraception options.