Martek gets smart results with DHA awareness campaign

Martek Biosciences produces a vegetarian docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which reportedly supports brain health and is added to a number of nutritional products.

Martek gets smart results with DHA awareness campaign

Client: Martek Biosciences (Columbia, MD)
PR Agency:
Carmichael Lynch Spong (Minneapolis, MN)
life'sDHA Index of Brain Health launch
June 23 - July 3 ongoing

Martek Biosciences produces a vegetarian docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which reportedly supports brain health and is added to a number of nutritional products. Its life'sDHA product is in many infant formulas, such as Similac Advance, and big brand fortified foods and beverages, including Minute Maid juices and Silk Soymilk. Martek asked longtime AOR Carmichael Lynch Spong (CLS) to work with a group of health experts and researchers to develop and launch “life'sDHA Index of Brain Health,” which measures brain health based on 21 criteria in the categories of diet, physical health, mental health, social well-being.

“We wanted consumers to know there are things they can do to improve brain health,” says Cassie France-Kelly, senior PR manager at Martek. “One of the index markers for brain health is to get more DHA in your diet -- that would encourage sales and demand for DHA.”

The team aimed to create a 3% increase in consumer awareness of DHA, moving from 47% awareness to 50% of the population. A benchmark it finds through its own awareness tracking, in place since 2006.

Julie Batliner, managing principal at CLS, explains that the index would provide a science-based platform that could be used repeatedly to position Martek as a brain-health thought leader with media and consumers. This would be an educational campaign communicating the benefits of life'sDHA, the importance of brain health, and actions that can be taken to improve brain health. Messaging would be pushed through traditional media relations, social media, and several Martek Web sites. Experts in preventative medicine and nutrition would serve as spokespeople.

CLS developed content and helped guide design for the microsite, which includes a DHA calculator, a brain health quiz, and an interactive US map showing state rankings in brain health.

Dr. Michael Roizen and Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, served as media spokespeople given their expertise in preventative medicine and nutrition respectively. Roizen highlighted index findings and tips in an SMT and an RMT.

The team pitched national morning shows, national consumer print outlets, and regional and local outlets in Martek's top markets. Batliner explains that the index provided many customized angles, including state-by-state focus.

The team also targeted health, fitness, and mommy blogs and consumer health Web sites. A launch announcement, an invitation to explore state rankings, and a quiz widget were posted on Martek's existing Facebook and Twitter pages. France-Kelly says Martek employees (about 585) were encouraged to use social media sites to challenge friends and family to take the quiz and share results.

France-Kelly reports that group achieved its goal of reaching 50% DHA awareness among the general population. Brand awareness of life'sDHA also increased from 13% to 15%. The index drove more than 32,000 visitors to from June through October, and nearly 17,000 people took the brain health quiz.

Facebook and Twitter audiences have increased by about one-third each, to 232 fans and 410 followers since the campaign began. France-Kelly says 92% of people who started the quiz on these sites completed it.

More than nine million impressions were generated, including placements in U.S. News & World Report,, and Local coverage appeared in 15 of Martek's 16 priority markets.

France-Kelly says the campaign exceeded expectations and that it was well-received by customers, as well as medical and scientific professionals.

“Impressions increased four times over 2008, and we think this campaign was a major driver,” she adds. “It also reinforced our standing as a science base company and built credibility.”

CLS will continue to drive coverage of the index. France-Kelly says the team will be expanding messaging to baby boomers.

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