AstraZeneca gives Hispanics a clearer grasp of migraines

Pharma giant AstraZeneca had scratched the surface of Hispanic marketing, but knew it could dig much deeper.

Pharma giant AstraZeneca had scratched the surface of Hispanic marketing, but knew it could dig much deeper.

So last year, it selected migraine-headache drug ZOMIG for a pilot project.

"Historically, what we have done is translate pieces into Spanish. After we did that, we thought we were covered," concedes Luis Silva, now brand manager for AstraZeneca's long-term care strategy. "We wanted to test the waters."

Educating the public about migraine treatment poses some challenges, especially among Hispanics. Migraines affect quality of life but usually aren't life threatening, so they don't get much attention from healthcare reporters, says Sarah Lora, manager of Burson-Marsteller's US Hispanic practice. "They don't take migraines as seriously."

In the Hispanic culture, migraines might be viewed as a sign of weakness and communication barriers often hinder doctor-patient dialogue.

"Hispanic patients don't dare to raise their voices and say, 'Hey, this medication isn't working," Lora says.


AstraZeneca enlisted Burson to help convince migraine sufferers that their conditions are serious and treatable. The campaign targeted Hispanic women ages 18 to 55, with Hispanic men as a secondary audience (70% of migraine sufferers are female).

The agency began by reviewing its own research on Hispanic markets and the client's data on patients, physicians, sales, and marketing of ZOMIG. Team members in Chicago then conducted Spanish-language focus groups with patients, neurologists, and general practitioners.

Research showed that Hispanics knew little about migraines. Burson realized that messages about ZOMIG had to be communicated plainly and authoritatively. Two well-respected His- panic doctors specializing in headache studies were recruited to be campaign spokespeople.


Members of Burson's Hispanic practice in Dallas and Miami developed Spanish language brochures, a book about migraines, press releases, PSAs, a VNR, and a CD-ROM. They also offered media training for the doctors.

A Spanish-language website allowed patients to order the book La Conquista de la Cefalea and receive $15 discount coupons.

The campaign launched in June at the American Headache Convention in Chicago.

In addition to lining up national print and broadcast interviews for its spokespeople, the team also tested its campaign's effectiveness at Hispanic health fairs in Dallas and Fort Worth, TX. Burson distributed thousands of leaflets, books, and promotional materials. More than 20,000 people attended the north Texas health fairs.

Keyla Medina, a reporter and editor for Spanish-language wire service Agencia EFE in Miami, says she wrote a feature about migraines after Burson pitched her the idea. Subscribers continued to pick up the article for months, she adds.

Outreach to syndicated Latino radio shows also proved effective by expanding the campaigns into smaller markets.


In all, Burson secured 35 VNR placements and 122 radio interviews and PSA runs. The team determined that the campaign generated 25% of the traffic on ZOMIG's Spanish-language website, with banner ads pulling in the rest.

Within months, ZOMIG had become the designer migraine drug most prescribed by neurologists to treat the condition - a boost to market share, Silva says.


AstraZeneca viewed the campaign as a test, but solid results encouraged it to consider an overall Hispanic marketing program. Execs recognize the need to take a long-term approach to multicultural marketing, though no plans have been finalized.

PR team: Burson-Marsteller (national Hispanic practice, Dallas) and AstraZeneca (Wilmington, DE)

Campaign: ?Declare la Guerra a la Migra?a! (Declare War on Migraines!)

Time frame: Spring and summer 2003

Budget: $140,000

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