Solta Medical turns to video to reach young acne sufferers

Solta Medical broadened its aesthetics portfolio last February with Isolaz, a laser treatment for acne gained via acquisition of Aesthera.

Client Solta Medical (Hayward, CA)

PR agency Cohn & Wolfe (Atlanta)

Campaign Stop the Pop

Duration September-December 2010

Budget Approximately $100,000

Solta Medical broadened its aesthetics portfolio last February with Isolaz, a laser treatment for acne gained via acquisition of Aesthera. Jeff Nardoci, Solta's global marketing VP, explains that while Isolaz is highly efficacious for acne, brand awareness was low.

Aiming to reach acne sufferers aged 18 to 25, Solta and AOR Cohn & Wolfe launched an effort centered on a video contest conducted in partnership with popular video blogger Elle Fowler.

"We had to try reaching the younger side of this audience," explains Nardoci. "We saw an online campaign as a perfect tool."


Contestants created videos on why they should receive Isolaz and posted them on campaign microsite Four winners were chosen to receive free treatment.

C&W SVP Lindsay Caulfield explains that acne sufferers are often frustrated, always seeking a solution that works. Nardoci says the team viewed peer-to-peer communication as the best way to reach acne sufferers and allow them to relate to Isolaz in a personal way. He also notes that most suffer more emotionally than physically, so allowing them to witness peers' experiences both with acne and with Isolaz was important.

"It's a personal approach versus the clinical approach most companies take," adds Nardoci.

Fowler was chosen as spokesperson because she's a valued beauty and trends adviser with a huge young adult following.


The contest launched September 20 with Fowler calling on her audience to post videos to the microsite, which also houses edu- cational material. Entries were uploaded without censoring.

"We like to hear from people personally," Nardoci says. "We don't try to censor that type of information because we're proud of our products' results."

Fowler, C&W, and Solta chose winners, called the "Pop Squad," who were announced on a rolling basis starting in mid-October to build momentum.

"All entrants shared tips," notes Caulfield. "It became like a mini-forum to talk about acne and emotional issues."

Videos were made of each winner's treatment experiences and posted on the microsite. Fowler also created and posted three informational videos on her site, including a dermatologist Q&A, and used her Facebook and Twitter pages to talk about the campaign.

A Stop the Pop Ninja game app, in which players kill the causes of acne with a wand, was created to further engage audiences on the microsite.

The team also created Web banners for physicians, e-blasts to announce winners, and postings of new educational and treatment videos.


Fowler's videos have attracted more than 1 million viewers on her YouTube channel. The contest drew 1,632 video submissions. Through December 17, winners' treatment videos had garnered 81,000 views. Though intended as a North American effort, people from more than 100 countries have entered the contest, notes Caulfield. has drawn more than 38,057 unique visitors from 129 countries since the launch. Comparing the three months prior to launch and the three months after it, C&W reports a 214% increase in average unique monthly visitors to and a 362% rise in average unique page views of its "find a doctor" function.

Nardoci adds that just one month into the campaign, Isolaz's share of voice increased from 1% to 7%.


Due to its success, a new variation of the campaign will launch this spring. Pop Squad and contest elements will continue with a new video blogger partner, yet to be finalized as of press time, and a second product called Claro, an OTC acne device added in October when Solta acquired CLRS Technology.

Healthcare companies rarely allow user-generated content to flow uncensored, and Solta should really be applauded here. This team also deserves praise for recognizing the power of peer-to-peer communication. This effort was exemplary in engaging the audience on their terms and letting them lead the conversation. Working with Fowler was very wise and clearly opened doors, but the team also did a fantastic job of building momentum. This campaign should continue to develop deep relationships and increase brand awareness.

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