PR Team: Sirona (Charlotte, NC) and Lanmark Group (Eatontown, NJ) Campaign: CEREC 3D Time Frame: March 2003-present Budget: About $100,000German dental-equipment manufacturer Sirona has been marketing the CEREC System - a chair-side device that lets dentists design full crowns and veneers in about one hour - for 15 years. The $90,000 product has undergone three renovations over the years, as users understandably have big expectations. The most recent installment, the CEREC 3D, contains a multidimensional interface that lets dentists design restorations on an external user-friendly platform, rather than in the confines of the human mouth. To launch the improved version, Sirona called upon Lanmark Group, which has been handling PR, advertising, and marketing for the product for three years. Strategy The objective was to build excitement around the new product by displaying its enhancements, and also to show dentists why the CEREC 3D is a valuable investment. Pricey as it may be, the product significantly cuts back on labor time and costs because it allows dental workers to perform tasks in-office that traditionally have to be sent out to laboratories. Lanmark sought to reach two target audiences: the dental trade press and influential clinicians. Consumer audiences were not initial targets because Sirona found that dentists who don't already have the equipment tend to respond negatively when patients ask them for it. "We don't want people asking for it until we're confident there are enough dentists out there using CEREC 3D," explains Stefan Hehn, Sirona's director of marketing and sales. "Reaching out to consumers depends on the number of people who would give positive feedback, and we didn't have that critical mass yet." Tactics The launch event, which the agency promoted by sending out invitations and making personal calls to the media, was held in Atlanta to coincide with this year's Hinman Dental Meeting, also taking place in the city that same week. To display the visual enhancements (the new interface is in color, multidimensional, and more intuitive) on the CEREC 3D, Lanmark decided to hold the event at the IMAX theatre inside Atlanta's Museum of Natural History. A cocktail reception was held for the first hour, providing dentists and members of the media with the opportunity to network. Attendees were then led into the theatre for a presentation of the product, which was displayed on the five-story screen. The first PowerPoint slide compared the old software with the new version, and members of the audience actually started applauding. Results Steve Wright, PR manager for Lanmark, says the firm drew such a good turnout because of the way the event was pitched. "We positioned the launch as an exclusive event, and that led to intrigue," explains Wright. Over 150 people attended, including thought leaders, editors, journalists, and, of course, dentists. Not a single attendee left the three-hour program early, and 90% of the clinicians in attendance requested speaking materials on the technology. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story highlighting the CEREC 3D within days of the launch. Additionally, over 10 full-length case-study articles documenting the effectiveness of the product's technology have been scheduled for future publication. At a trade show following the IMAX event, Sirona's sales force sold 21 units, totaling $1.9 million. Future Lanmark will continue working on CEREC 3D by holding similar events in new markets, and garnering relevant editorial coverage. The agency will also continue performing surveys and focus groups, and appearing at trade shows. Once a critical mass of 5% of dentists using CEREC 3D is attained (currently, it is at about 2.5%), active outreach to consumer audiences will begin.