“We learned through our research that the vast majority of women don't believe they are at risk for cervical cancer even though only 10% of women have received at least one dose of a vaccine,” said Jeff McLaughlin, director of US product communications for vaccines for GSK. Whitlock, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in her 20s, "is representative of the type of audience we're trying to reach," he added.
The campaign, which began in early March, includes the launch of a new Web site, and GSK also posted TV ads, which debuted during the Academy Awards telecast, on its Help Prevent YouTube channel. The campaign budget was not disclosed.
GSK and Cohn & Wolfe, PR AOR for vaccines, arranged for Whitlock and 46 other young women to appear on CBS' The Early Show on March 10. Whitlock wore a shirt that read “Cervical Cancer Survivor,” while the others wore shirts that read “Every 47 Minutes.”
One of the main messages of the campaign is the fact that every 47 minutes another woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer. Last October, the Food and Drug Administration approved GSK's cervical-cancer vaccine, Cervarix.
“But this is an unbranded campaign,” McLaughlin told PRWeek. “We first wanted to lay the ground work in terms of education around this important cancer.”
As part of "Help Prevent," Whitlock posted an entry on GSK's blog, More than Medicine, where she discusses the ways women can help prevent cervical cancer.
“We didn't want to do traditional press releases," McLaughlin said. "We chose to speak about this initiative in a space that makes more sense for a young target audience.”
GSK also works with singer-actress Mandy Moore on cervical cancer awareness, and McLaughlin said Moore could become involved again in the "Help Prevent" campaign going forward.
“This will be an ongoing campaign," he added, "and we have plans to continue the momentum, particularly at a more local level.”
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