Allergan addresses obesity in public affairs push

IRVINE, CA: Allergan launched a public affairs campaign that aims to raise consumer awareness of obesity while advocating to policymakers that obesity should be recognized as a disease.

IRVINE, CA: Allergan launched a public affairs campaign that aims to raise consumer awareness of obesity while advocating to policymakers that obesity should be recognized as a disease.

Cathy Taylor, senior manager of corporate communications for Allergan, said the campaign is a reflection of “Allergan's commitment to the obesity category.”

The “Choice” campaign, which launched May 13, stands for Choosing Health over Obesity Inspiring Change through Empowerment. Messaging focuses on why obesity is not a choice, but rather a disease.

“There's an unmet need that we could fill with a large scale campaign of this kind,” Taylor added.

The company acquired Lap-Band, an adjustable gastric banding system, in 2006. It was the first adjustable medical device approved for individualized weight loss in the US.

Chandler Chicco Agency, PR agency for the company, is providing support. Pharmaceutical digital agency Intouch Solutions is also working on the campaign.

At the center of the campaign is a microsite that provides information about obesity and the campaign, as well as an online petition that advocates for legislation that would ensure access to weight loss surgery for the morbidly obese.  

Allergan aims to get 250,000 signatures on the petition.

The campaign is also asking patients who have undergone weight-loss surgery to submit their story in an online contest that began in May and ends in July. Twelve winners will travel to Washington in September, along with Allergan staff, to meet with policymakers and deliver the petition.

“That petition is very much advocating for obesity to be recognized as a disease and one of the key public health threats in our country,” said Taylor.

Allergan is also providing social media tools, including a Facebook page for the cause and pre-approved tweets to users. It also aims to have 250,000 members for the Facebook cause page.

Taylor said though Allergan has a government relations team, the company is now looking at including public participation in its policy efforts.

“This campaign steps up our presence" in Washington, she said, "because we're doing a very large-scale campaign to the general public and asking them to help in our efforts.”

Media outreach is focusing on healthcare and consumer outlets, as well as Beltway media.

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