Novartis sets out to debunk misconception that only smokers get lung cancer

Image credit: Novartis

Company: Novartis
Campaign: Podría Ser Tu Pulmón. Hablemos.
Agency mix: Newlink collaboration with Novartis Oncology Business Unit
Duration: May 2016 - Ongoing
Budget: $71,900

Novartis has launched a Latin America-focused campaign aimed at debunking the common misconception that you have to be a smoker in order to be diagnosed with lung cancer.

The campaign is called Podría Ser Tu Pulmón. Hablemos, which literally translates to: "It Might Be Your Lung. Let's Talk." It focuses on the concept that, even though smoking is the main cause of lung cancer in the world, approximately 10% to 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked and have developed the disease due to genetic alterations.

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The campaign comes as part of Novartis' overarching campaign Any One, Any Lung. In 2014, Novartis Oncology published a global survey of over 10,000 adults, which evidenced that only one out of five people recognized that genetic alterations may cause lung cancer.

Based in Switzerland, Novartis is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

STRATEGY

In the summer of 2015, Novartis tasked Newlink with the adaptation and launch the global Podría Ser Tu Pulmón campaign in Latin America.

The reason for developing the campaign in Latin America was clear. The 2014 global lung cancer survey showed that, if 75% of the global participants immediately thought smoking was the cause when they heard someone had lung cancer, this percentage jumped to 88% in Argentina, 85% in Colombia, and 78% in Mexico. Also, while in countries like Spain only 30% of people thought there is little compassion for lung cancer patients, lack of compassion for people suffering from lung cancer seemed higher in Colombia (70%), Argentina (62%), and Mexico (58%).

"The campaign's main objective was to break down existing myths and misconceptions about lung cancer, shedding a light on the fact that the disease not only affects older men with a history of smoking habits, but that several genetic mutations can play a role in the development of the disease – even in non-smoker patients, as young as 15 years old," explained Diana Panqueva, head of communications and patient relations at Novartis Oncology LACan.

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Another goal of the campaign was to call patients into action to get their tumors tested for the main genetic alterations that can drive the disease, such as that in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase [ALK] gene.

Newlink adapted the campaign concept to Any One, Any Lung, maintaining the global idea that lung cancer could affect anyone, while making the tagline more approachable to the Latin American region's audience.

"Latin America has limited specialized media when it comes to healthcare," said Jorge Ramírez, VP of Newlink Miami. "So media relations efforts focused on journalists covering the topic in the main general interest publications in the region and the markets."

TACTICS

In May, the educational component of the campaign began with the launch of a microsite, which was adapted from the global site: www.anyoneanylung.com.

The Latin American site features educational videos with patients and key medical opinion leaders from the region, further information about the ALK mutation, and the other genetic alterations associated with lung cancer.

Newlink worked in collaboration with Novartis and patient associations in Latin America to help develop patient-centric content for the campaign.

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Media outreach for the campaign was supported through the development of media materials, including press releases, a guide to lung cancer for journalists, and an infographic to be used in coverage. The PR team also coordinated media interviews with patients, physicians, and Novartis spokespeople.

While the campaign did not feature social channels, a media buy on Facebook helped direct people to the branded website.

The campaign prompted several op-ed pieces about lung cancer written by influential medical figures in Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia.

RESULTS

The campaign received coverage in several top-tier Latino outlets, including: Clarín (the largest newspaper in Argentina), NTN24, infobae, DMedicina, ABCMedicus, and La Nación.

With a media buy on Facebook costing $1,000, Podría Ser Tu Pulmón reached almost two million users through social media impressions, leading to 27,799 clicks to the website.

The campaign's videos received over 392,798 views in just one month, surpassing the initial goal of 2,600 video views by 15,107%.

FUTURE

The Podría Ser Tu Pulmón campaign will continue this year with the development of a podcast series, featuring Maria del Carmen Pignataro. In spite of being an athlete and keeping a healthy lifestyle, Pignataro was diagnosed at 55 with advanced lung cancer, later to find out that her tumor was being driven by an alteration in the ALK gene. The podcast series will launch in November, which is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. 

This story originally appeared in PRWeek.