2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Media Event

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for media event.

Allergan & Chandler Chicco Agency

"Moment of Truth" Obesity Health Education Campaign

Allergan, the makers of the LAP-BAND Adjustable Gastric Banding System, set out to launch an obesity health education campaign in 2007 to raise awareness that the surgically implanted device is a less invasive option than gastric bypass surgery. The communications executives hoped that this message would in turn help motivate the millions of obese people to discuss appropriate, safe and effective weight-loss solutions with their doctors.

To fulfill the campaign's goals, Allergan enlisted the services of Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA), which suggested using the Prochaska and DiClemente behavioral change model to illustrate how people are motivated to take action by a personal trigger, be it the humiliation of having to use a seat belt extender on an airplane or the premature death of a loved one due to an obesity-related ailment. CCA leveraged this model to create the "Moment of Truth" theme for the obesity health education program.

Selecting a Spokesperson

To add a personal element to the campaign, the team enlisted Khaliah Ali, fashion designer, author and daughter of the boxing legend Muhammad Ali, to be a spokesperson based on her own moment of truth--the realization that her weight (335 pounds) would prevent her from seeing her young son grow up--which prompted her to use the LAP-BAND system.

Also, to communicate the campaign's clinical message and validate the product benefits, 10 leading bariatric surgeons were tapped to hold patient seminars on the subject.

Side Effects

To further support the campaign, the team developed a Web site to chronicle Ali's personal journey and to offer information about obesity treatment options and patient seminars. The site also featured an interactive self-assessment tool that would help a person identify his/her "moment of truth" and help him/her find a solution.

All of these factors came together around national and local media tours that supplemented the grassroots components. To date, more than 18,000 unique visitors have logged onto the campaign's central Web site and participated in the self-assessment tool, and the media tours have generated more than 127 million media impressions in just over six months.