Astellas contest connects with transplant patients

To strengthen its relationship with the transplant community, Astellas Pharma US, manufacturer of Prograf, an immunosuppressant drug for liver, kidney, and heart transplant patients, decided to launch an essay contest that would allow five organ donors and their guests to decorate and ride a float in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. Fleishman-Hillard assisted on the effort.

To strengthen its relationship with the transplant community, Astellas Pharma US, manufacturer of Prograf, an immunosuppressant drug for liver, kidney, and heart transplant patients, decided to launch an essay contest that would allow five organ donors and their guests to decorate and ride a float in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. Fleishman-Hillard assisted on the effort.

Strategy

"It's important that we recognize that transplant patients and donors have gone through a life-changing experience," says Maribeth Landwehr, associate director of corporate communications for Astellas. "[The Rose Parade] is the perfect venue to bring to light this important issue." Astellas wanted to show its support for the transplant community, drive traffic to www.transplantexperience.com, and increase enrollment in the Web site's database. "It's not a big pharma-type campaign," explains Sarah Vura, Fleishman SVP. "It's more about the patient because it's a small patient population."

Tactics

The team focused on print media outreach, with a goal of two placements per local market and one national story. Using Astellas healthcare specialists, OneLegacy (the nonprofit that organized the float), and transplant centers, it solicited entries. Once the winners were announced, outreach focused on local media. Interviews with nominees, winners, and transplant coordinators also were arranged.

Results

The effort exceeded goals, with six to 18 stories per market and a feature story in the May 2007 Teen Vogue. Another 2.8 million impressions were generated during the parade broadcast. The Web site increased traffic and added 80 patients to its database.

Future

Astellas and Fleishman just finished the 2007 entry process and will announce the winners shortly.

Astrellas Pharma US

PR team: Astellas Pharma US (Deerfield, IL) and Fleishman-Hillard (Cleveland and Chicago)

Campaign: Ride of a Lifetime

Duration: March 2006 to March 2007

Budget: $100,000

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