Campaign: Travel sickness presented as a hazard - Healthcare PR

Campaign: Stugeron - Be Prepared

Client: McNeil

PR team: Spink Consumer Relations

Timescale: April-August 2004

Budget: £20,000

Children's potential for sudden vomiting in the confines of a car in motion is well known - especially to parents. Pharmaceutical manufacturer McNeil tasked Spink Consumer Relations with creating awareness of its established OTC travel sickness prevention product, Stugeron 15. It lasts for up to eight hours and is suitable for kids as young as five. Objectives

To drive sales by raising the profile of Stugeron 15 as a long-lasting travel sickness remedy for the whole family. To create awareness of the importance of preventative treatment.

Strategy and Plan

Since it did not have the obvious angle of a new product to plug, the PR team identified that travel sickness has a significant impact on the enjoyment of family journeys and that consumers were complacent about taking action to prevent it. It set about positioning Stugeron 15 as the means to avoid a dismal family holiday.

The team decided to link the issue to road safety. In conjunction with the RAC, Spink commissioned consumer research suggesting travel sickness is a hazard on the roads: three quarters of travellers claimed a family member had suffered, with a quarter of drivers saying they had been distracted by a sick passenger.

Results were presented by an RAC spokesperson and an ear, nose and throat specialist from Southampton University at two media roundtable meetings at the RAC Club in London. These were timed to take place just before the May Bank Holiday last year, a popular period for family holidays.

National and regional press and women's and parenting magazines were targeted with research results, expert quotes and the campaign message - 'Be prepared to maximise the experience of travelling' - in a bid to reach families. There was also a health education campaign with the tagline 'Be prepared - preventing hazardous journeys', which involved one-to-one media presentations with nationals, parenting and women's magazines, as well as trade journalists. A case study campaign was aimed at all weekly women's titles. A regional media campaign, 'Put the fun back into family trips', included a competition.

The team also targeted trade media, such as Chemist & Druggist, with the clinical benefits of Stugeron, such as its long-lasting action to stop nausea and reduce sensitivity to motion.

Measurement and Evaluation

Coverage included The Times, News of the World, Take a Break, Woman's Own and a case study feature in Bella. Over the May Bank Holiday, 44 regional titles ran the competition, with branded mentions and message uptake through editorial reinforced with photography of the product.


Spink used EPOS sales data from the client to show the PR campaign resulted in an increase in average monthly sales of Stugeron 15 over the campaign period and a five per cent increase in the value of sales over the previous year.

Despite the coverage achieved, not all journalists attending the event were able to use the information.

Freelance Jane Feinmann, who writes regularly for women's magazines and national papers on health issues, says: 'It was a very clever idea but it didn't work for me because they didn't actually have any statistics showing that road accidents happen because a child is throwing up in the back of a car.'

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