CAMPAIGNS: Healthcare; New tool ensures a pregnant pause

Client: Unipath PR Team: Sandpiper Communications Campaign: Launch of Persona, a new method of contraception Timescale: January - September 1996 Cost: pounds 100,000 (launch only)

Client: Unipath

PR Team: Sandpiper Communications

Campaign: Launch of Persona, a new method of contraception

Timescale: January - September 1996

Cost: pounds 100,000 (launch only)

Persona is a new form of ‘contraception’ that measures female hormone

levels to determine when it’s safe for a woman to have sex without

becoming pregnant. The makers claim it is 95 per cent reliable - the

same as the condom.

Sandpiper has worked with Unipath from the announcement of the product,

through clinical trials when the agency helped recruit triallists, and

on to launch activity culminating in a conference on 30 September this



To position Persona as a revolutionary new choice in mainstream

contraception; to maximise independent endorsement of Persona, and to

generate sales during the first week of availability when there was no



Groundwork to help secure coverage included building up a pool of

Persona triallists in every media region who would be comfortable giving

interviews. Independent family planning experts who had conducted the

trials plus other opinion leaders on family planning were invited to

attend the launch.

Media planning sheets detailing the date of every programme/publication

being targeted were drawn up and updated as members of the Sandpiper

team made contact and arranged follow-ups.

Advance one-to-one briefings were conducted with women’s and medical

magazines to accommodate lead-times, and an exclusive feature embargoed

for 1 October was sold-in to the Daily Mail.

TV stations were sent a VNR a few days before launch so they had time

to cut a story and request further footage. In addition, 2,000 press

packs tailored to medical and non-medical press were sent out.

The Royal Society of Medicine was chosen as an appropriately heavyweight

venue for the launch. Separate interview rooms were provided and

individual interviews conducted throughout the day. Access was also

given to suitable filming areas such as the library. Dedicated phones

and faxes and a messenger service were also laid on.


Before the launch conference began Persona had achieved national

coverage on BBC news, GMTV and radio. BBC TV covered the story on all

its news bulletins from breakfast to 9pm; ITN at lunch time and 5.40pm;

and BBC network radio all day.

All of the nationals ran the story and coverage in the Times and

Telegraph on the early home news pages was particularly good. There was

also extensive coverage in the women’s press and medical journals.

Coverage during launch week totalled 288 items with an accumulated reach

of 115 million. 99.6 per cent of coverage communicated the message that

this was a new choice in contraception, and 86 per cent that it allowed

women to have sex without risk of pregnancy. National TV and press

reached over 30per cent of the total adult population.

An audit conducted by independent research company Capibus showed

awareness among 54 per cent of the core target group. Within three days

of the launch sales of Persona exceeded expectation by over 30 per cent.


A very large scale campaign which deserves praise for its planning and


Sandpiper consultant director, Caroline Page, admits there was ‘great

media interest in contraception which often took the story out of the

health pages’, but believed it was ‘the depth of information provided

and the fact real women had trialled Persona which gave it that strong

human interest angle’ that resulted in such widespread and high profile


Sandpiper has received many compliments from the media about the way the

conference was handled, the timing and the access provided to key

players such as triallists and the FPA.

The internal evaluation against key messages which Sandpiper carried out

was also commendable, both for its simple concept and the discipline it

imposes in looking at results.

The sales success of Persona in the first week when there was no

advertising support provided additional proof of the effectiveness of

the PR.


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