Critical Hit: Insomnia story on ABC show wake-up call for new drug

Purdue Pharma wanted to drive awareness for the launch of its new insomnia drug, Intermezzo, which is the first prescription sleep aid for use when a middle-of-the-night awakening is followed by difficulty returning to sleep.

Name
Paul Wynn, senior director, global healthcare practice, Burson-Marsteller (New York)
Placement
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, April 4, 2012
Pitch timeline
Three months

Who is your client and what are its media goals?
Purdue Pharma wanted to drive awareness for the launch of its new insomnia drug, Intermezzo, which is the first prescription sleep aid for use when a middle-of-the-night awakening is followed by difficulty returning to sleep.

The firm turned to us to educate consumers, particularly women, about middle-of-the-night insomnia and motivate them to talk to doctors about Intermezzo.

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer is obviously a high-profile target, but what made it ideal for the launch of Intermezzo and how did you pitch the producers?
Through our research we found that ABC News reported on insomnia issues frequently and very accurately, making them the right national outlet for this story.

Our account and media teams worked with producers that had previously covered insomnia issues and offered them an exclusive, which really piqued their interest.

They were very interested in the story, but didn't commit until 36 hours before the announcement.

Some outlets loath to tout product launches as news. How did you overcome that and what experts and content did you provide to clinch this placement?
What's different about Intermezzo is that it's the first FDA-approved drug for middle- of-the-night awakenings, so that was the news hook and the value to the show.

We offered doctors for commentary, but ABC has its own physician experts.

We did, however, provide compelling Intermezzo manufacturing footage that ended up in the two-minute segment.

What was the impact of the hit on the show?
The segment aired April 4 and ABC followed that with coverage on Good Morning America, ABC Radio, and two pieces on ABC.go.com.

That initial wave of news drove additional coverage in top- tier media outlets, including the Associated Press, Fox News, and USAToday.com.

More importantly, one major US retailer spotted the ABC coverage, leading them to make a sizeable purchase of Inter- mezzo. Rarely is there such a direct connection between public relations efforts and sales so everyone was very excited to have such tangible ROI.

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