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
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.