When Shire Pharmaceuticals got FDA approval for its newest ADHD treatment, Vyvanse, last spring, it saw the chance to combine the launch with a community-centered initiative designed to create an understanding of the disorder and give back to the community.
"We wanted this to be an ADHD awareness event and an opportunity to showcase the launch of a new ADHD medicine," says Matt Cabrey, senior manager of corporate communications for Shire.
Shire enlisted the help of Porter Novelli to create a campaign that could balance the commercial and marketing objectives of the branding team, and allow the company to perform a dual role as both a good corporate and a good social citizen.
The company also wanted a big idea for the launch that could be tied into its celebrity spokesperson, Ty Pennington (who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child), so that his passion for the cause could be spread to the public in a relatable manner.
By taking full advantage of Pennington's background in design, PN located an elementary school in Harlem where the team would be able to design, build, and donate a fully-equipped playground, utilizing the construction process and opening ceremony to drive awareness.
"In speaking to the public and the media, Ty could tie in the message of the importance of understanding how kids, especially those with ADHD, can benefit from staying active," says Jacelyn Seng, account supervisor in the healthcare practice at PN.
PN immediately sat down with students at the school and asked them to draw pictures of their dream playground, incorporating the most desired elements (as well as the colors of the Vyvanse logo) into the final design.
A Web site was created for the project, giving people the opportunity to register for the chance to meet Pennington at the unveiling, while also allowing parents of children with ADHD to opt in to Shire's database to receive more information on their child's disease and its treatments.
As the playground neared completion, Shire invited local community officials and third-party ADHD groups to the opening ceremony to drive interest and provide further information to those who attended.
After six months of planning and construction, Shire debuted a top-of-the-line playground (complete with a running track, baseball diamond, and basketball hoops) to teachers, community members, and local political figures.
A bilingual ADHD expert was on hand at the ceremony to conduct interviews and answer any questions regarding the disorder, and Shire has since received calls from educators around the country who want to work with them to build a playground for their own schools.
With Pennington's support, the project garnered more than 95 million media impressions, and traffic to the Web site brought in a 62% increase in total qualified consumer opt-ins.
Shire and PN are in discussion to continue the campaign by creating a second Project Playground in another similarly deserving community somewhere in the US.
PR team: Shire Pharmaceuticals (Philadelphia) and Porter Novelli (New York)
Campaign: Project Playground
Duration: Feb.-August 8, 2007
Both Shire and Porter Novelli were completely correct in their restraint from using the playground as a direct advertising campaign for the new drug.
Not wanting their intentions to be misconstrued, Shire and PN steered completely clear
of any potentially sticky situations. In the process, they were able to make better use of their celebrity spokesperson (who, by law, could not attest to the drug's effects).
By focusing on bringing attention to the condition itself rather than attempting to directly market the new product, PN was able to maximize the number of unrealized consumers for Vyvanse that were reached without any misjudgment.