CAMPAIGNS: Health PR - HOT receives a warm reception

Client: Astra

Client: Astra

PR Team: Ketchum

Campaign: The HOT Study

Timescale: November 1997 ongoing

Budget: pounds 120,000

One-in-five adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). Yet despite

being a major risk factor in heart disease and the leading cause of

death worldwide, hypertension has a low media and public profile.

In 1992, pharmaceutical company Astra sponsored the largest intervention

trial ever in hypertensive medicine - HOT (the Hypertension Optimal

Treatment study) - to answer a question which had long been puzzling

doctors: what is optimal blood pressure? The trial included around

19,000 patients around the world over a six-year period.

Ketchum was appointed to get maximum exposure for the results of the

trial which were to be announced at the International Society of

Hypertension meeting in June 1998.


To achieve optimal awareness of HOT and its findings worldwide and to

enhance Astra’s reputation and presence among key audiences:

prescribers, opinion leaders and third party organisations.

Strategy and Plan

Ketchum’s initial task was to motivate Astra affiliates at 49 marketing

companies around the world to promote HOT. This was a challenge as the

study had been running for so long that it had almost been forgotten and

HOT taskforces across Europe were inactive. Astra’s promotional budgets

had also directly been allocated to other projects.

Ketchum targeted senior managers to remind them that HOT was an

important study which would be relevant to the development of

hypertension treatment.

A ’do or die’ opportunity to get Astra affiliates behind the campaign

came at a worldwide meeting for Astra cardiovascular managers in


Ketchum used strategic and motivational presentations to gain support

and outline campaign plans.

Ongoing motivational tactics included HOT Bulletin, a monthly update to

affiliates; HOT Centre on Astra’s Cardiovascular Centre web site; and

contributions to In Circulation, the in-house cardiovascular


Ketchum acted as the nerve centre for an international media campaign,

developing core media materials and co-ordinating a programme of


The results of the HOT study were announced at a press briefing at the

International Society of Hypertension meeting in Amsterdam on 9 June


Sixty-five journalists from 18 countries attended the briefing and there

was a live link to journalists in New York. Other countries, including

Sweden and Canada, did their own press briefings.

A VNR was produced for broadcasters. Affiliates were encouraged to get

in touch with third party organisations to act as interviewees.

Measurement and Evaluation

Almost 1,000 items of media coverage have conveyed the HOT message.

Print coverage included around 450 publications including USA Today,

Wall Street Journal Europe and the Daily Telegraph, and broadcast

coverage included CNN, NBC, BBC and Sky.

Astra was identified as the study sponsor in over 90 per cent of



Around 5,000 physicians have contacted Astra to learn more about HOT,

and Astra affiliates have credited the study with improving attendance

at local symposia. The new International Society of Hypertension/World

Health Organisation guidelines for treating hypertension were delayed to

incorporate the HOT data. Ketchum launched the guidelines at a press

briefing in London in February.

Ketchum’s work on HOT continues, with mileage to be gained from case

studies and in-depth analysis. The campaign has firmly established the

importance of hypertension as a disease study area.

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