Schering-Plough tells a new asthma story

Experience had shown Schering-Plough that it's difficult to garner media coverage for childhood asthma.

Company: Schering-Plough

Campaign: Breathless Bethany Buttercup

PR Team: Schering-Plough and Zeno Group

Duration: March 2009 – ongoing

Budget: Under $250,000

Experience had shown Schering-Plough that it's difficult to garner media coverage for childhood asthma. The company knew it needed to do something different to bring attention to its latest drug, ASMANEX, which hit the market in 2008. The company partnered with Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) to develop Breathless Bethany Buttercup, a children's storybook that uses the tale of a little girl with asthma to provide information about asthma management to children, their parents, and healthcare providers.

“The storybook approach isn't anything new, but we were able to give it a fresh approach by using social media,” says Julie Lux, director of global product communications at Schering-Plough.


The PR team wanted to reach online health reporters, health reporters at newspapers, parenting publications, and bloggers who write about asthma. To accomplish this, pitches played up the angles about managing the disorder. “We know from research that there's a lot of confusion on asthma treatment options,” Lux notes. “We wanted to demonstrate that we could help address that.”

But the company knew this angle alone wouldn't achieve the media coverage it was seeking. So the team added a social media strategy to distribute and promote the book through Web sites.

“This also served to let those who suffer from asthma know that they're not alone,” adds Jennifer Mallory, VP Zeno Group.

The team made a free copy of Breathless Bethany Buttercup available through two Web sites, and To drive traffic to these sites, the team sent reporters a mailer that included a lunch box with snacks, press materials, and a zip drive. They also issued a multimedia press release including supporting materials, a video, and graphics.

In addition to the parenting and health media outlets, outreach also consisted of asthma and allergy trades and family publications targeting African Americans, a key demographic, according to Mallory. The team also offered a doctor, AANMA spokesperson, or mother of a child suffering from asthma to the media to provide additional perspective on the disease and the storybook as a resource.

“What demonstrated our success most was the number of parents and professional organizations that requested the book,” Lux says. To date, approximately 8,950 storybook orders have been fulfilled through ASMANEX and AANMA Web sites. They also generated more than 2,500 unique page views to

Media hits included the Indianapolis Star (IN), Omaha-World Herald (NE), Family Magazine Group Publications, Respiratory Management,, and

Schering-Plough continues it work with the Zeno Group. “We are looking for additional ways to spread the book and to provide additional tools to parents and providers,” Lux says.

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