OraSure leverages dentist to promote HIV testing

OraSure wanted to expand use in dental offices of its OraQuick Advance, a rapid oral fluid HIV test, explains Ron Ticho, SVP of corporate communications at OraSure.

Client: OraSure (Bethlehem, PA)
Agency: Zero to Five (Devon, PA)
Campaign: "HIV Testing in Dental Setting"
Duration: September 2009 – Ongoing
Budget: Approximately $20,000

OraSure wanted to expand use in dental offices of its OraQuick Advance, a rapid oral fluid HIV test, explains Ron Ticho, SVP of corporate communications at OraSure. Working with AOR Zero to Five, OraSure identified a dentist already using OraQuick Advance to promote its benefits and position the company as a category leader.

“We wanted to explore the opportunity to raise awareness and build product preference in the dental community," Ticho says. "PR was by far the most credible channel.” 

Strategy
The team partnered with Dr. Catrice Austin, owner of VIP Smiles dental practice in New York, positioning her as a trailblazer helping to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and saving lives. The team also leveraged CDC and New York City Department of Health HIV/AIDS statistics to capture media and social media attention and emphasize the need for testing.

“A dentist talking about ease of use and the importance of offering HIV testing would resonate with colleagues and the public,” Ticho says. Dr. Austin was using the technology and had a sincere passion to help fight HIV. She billed herself as ‘dentist to stars,' so she was predisposed and well-positioned to leverage PR in her own practice.”

Tactics
Austin and Ticho conducted interviews with New York outlets, African-American outlets, national consumer outlets, and dental and HIV trades, says Michael Levey, senior strategist at Zero to Five.

“The African American community is disproportionately impacted by the disease,” Ticho explains. “All our campaigns focus on providing support in those communities.”

OraSure posted a video of Austin encouraging testing in her office on Orasure.com and YouTube, and Levey says the agency team used their personal Twitter pages to promote the video and the campaign. Austin also communicated on her Twitter and Facebook pages.

World AIDS Day (December 1) and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7) provided additional coverage opportunities.

Results
Since the campaign's launch, Austin tested approximately 75 patients using the OraQuick Advance HIV test, and saw a 118% increase in patents tested in December and January, compared to October and November, Levey said.

In addition to media coverage, including the New York Post, AOL Money & Finance, and Fox News, Austin now has more than 2,000 Facebook fans and nearly 700 Twitter followers.

Future
OraSure plans to continue working with Zero to Five, and plans include the launch of the OraQuick Rapid Hepatitis C test in Europe.

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