UNDERSTANDING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS by Hill & Knowlton for Gedeon Richter Marketing

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UNDERSTANDING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

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Industry Consumer & Public services, Health & Pharmaceutical Products
Media Promo & PR
Market United Kingdom
Agency Hill & Knowlton
Released June 2011

Awards

Cannes Lions 2011
PR Lions Healthcare and Services Silver

Credits & Description

Type of Entry: Sectors & Services
Category: Healthcare and Services
Advertiser/Client: GEDEON RICHTER MARKETING
Product/Service: PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY
Entrant Company: HILL & KNOWLTON London, UNITED KINGDOM
PR/Advertising Agency: FEEDBACK/HILL & KNOWLTON Warsaw, POLAND

Senior Account Manager, Healthcare: Izabela Sałamacha (Hill & Knowlton Poland)
Account Executive, Healthcare: Monika Zalewska (Hill & Knowlton Poland)
Account Executive, Healthcare: Kinga Łobzowska-Błachnio (Hill & Knowlton Poland)
Associate Director, Events: Rafał Tarwacki (Hill & Knowlton Poland)
Account Executive, Events: Kacper Bojarski (Hill & Knowlton Poland)

Describe the campaign/entry:
The problem:
How does a pharmaceutical company position itself as a leader in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, when strict laws prohibit it from publicising its products? Doctors have difficulty in diagnosing the condition and a lack of funding means many MS sufferers cannot access new treatment.

The challenge:
- Educate patients, their carers and doctors about MS and its treatment.
- Position Gedeon Richter an expert in this field whilst obeying strict marketing rules that govern the sector.

The insight:
- To truly understand the difficulties an MS sufferer encounters every day, we realised enabling people to feel the symptoms firsthand, rather than being told what they were, would be far more impactful
- The internet is a huge source of information for researching illnesses and treatments, and is easily accessible
- Credible 3rd party endorsement would give the campaign a platform

The solution:
- Generate 'experential empathy' by creating an online interactive simulation of MS symptoms
- Enrol MS organisations and medical universities into providing third party endorsement
- Educate the next generation of doctors

Results:
- Endorsed by patients, MS organisations, medical schools, bloggers and pharma marketing specialists
- MS funding and treatment for patients is back on the government’s agenda
- Reached a global audience of 500,000+
Describe the brief from the client:
Objectives:
- Raise awareness of the plight of MS sufferers living with the condition
- Highlight the difficulty MS patients in Poland have in accessing new treatments because of funding issues
- Educate future doctors on the symptoms of MS to help with diagnosis

Target audience:
- The general public
- Medical students/doctors
- MS patients, their families and friends
- Media
- Decision-makers e.g. politicians

Extensive research was conducted to ensure an online simulation would match the reality of patients living with MS.
Results:
- Campaign endorsed by the PMSS and IFMSA – simulation sites on PMSS website
- The Polish Ministry of Health has initiated steps to make funding for MS sufferers more available (Apr 2011)
- Campaign reached global audience of 500,000 +
- Generated coverage in @ 369 media igniting discuission around the funding issue including coverage on 23 national and local TV channels, and 14 national and local radio stations
- The 'Having MS' Roadshow will have reached 3,500 medical students at 16 medical universities in Poland by end April 2011
- 284,000 hits and 404,000 page views on HavingMS.com and MamSM.pl
- 442 positive opinions posted on Wykop.pl (polish version of Digg.com)
- Applauded by 19 MS bloggers and 8 pharma marketing specialists.
Execution:
(PLANNING STARTED 2009 / MAJORITY OF IMPLEMENTATION TOOK PLACE 2010)

- Partnership established with the Polish Multiple Sclerosis Society (PMSS) - Jul 2009
- In the first simulation of its kind, created a 3D simulation enabling all internet users to experience the symptoms of MS firsthand - MamSM.pl went live Oct 2009
- English version, ‘Having MS.com’, launched March 2010
- Websites featured the simulation, MS sufferers and their carers highlighting the funding issue and difficulty in accessing treatment
- Established partnership with the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA) - April 2010
- 'Having MS' roadshow visited 16 medical universities / 3,500 students (with the IFMSA) April 2010 – April 2011
- With the PMMS, exhibited at four major MS events (7,500 attendees) May - Oct 2010
- Enrolled prominent politicians into undertaking experiments simulating the symptoms of MS
- Distributed 10,000 simulation CD’s, 3,000 educational leaflets and 240 posters
- Supported by traditional and social media throughout.
The Situation:
Around 60 thousand people in Poland suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Gedeon Richter wanted to position itself as a leader in the treatment of MS and raise awareness of the condition as MS sufferers often feel isolated. Many patients have difficulty in accessing new treatments because of funding issues.

Diagnosing MS is difficult as many of the symptoms are common to other conditions. Public awareness of the condition is low and healthy people know very little about the disease.

Pharmaceutical companies cannot publicise products or treatments so the campaign needed to work within strict pre-defined parameters.
The Strategy:
The core idea was to create an innovative and interactive simulation tool to enable 'healthy' people to experience living with MS through performing everyday simple tasks such as colouring in, responding to a text message, writing an email and cutting bread.

Enrolling MS sufferers and others involved in their care, to participate in the planning and execution of the campaign, would ensure the simulation matched their reality. Once on the site, visitors would be educated on the facts, symptoms and treatment of MS.

Getting buy in from official MS organisations and medical authorities would be crucial to add credibility and generate publicity.