GSK launches surprising cervical cancer TV spots

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What began as a sparkly new ad for perfume quickly shifted gears, from trivial to terrifying, once the young female actor glimpsed the perfume bottle's script: cervical cancer.

“Maybe it's unfair to get your attention this way, but nothing's fair about cervical cancer,” the ad's voice-over intones, following the big reveal. It goes on to say that “every 47 minutes, another woman in the US is diagnosed, but there are ways to prevent it. Talk to your doctor.”

The 30 second spot—one of three new ads which launched last month—ran during the Academy Awards and red carpet coverage and directs traffic to HelpPreventCervicalCancer.com, an unbranded educational website. Visitors to the site can learn about cervical cancer myths versus facts, and follow links to the CDC page on HPV vaccines, the Gynecological Cancer Foundation and other organizations. Information on GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix vaccine is conspicuously absent from the website, which was created by Backe, a Radnor, PA-based digital shop.

The three videos came from McCann HumanCare (you can see them at GSK's YouTube channel), and will run in rotation on TV and online, according to Jennifer Armstrong, manager of product communications at GSK.

“The campaign is all about a commitment to educating young women about cervical cancer,” said Armstrong. “We want women to know this is a preventable cancer.”

In addition to TV and online elements, Armstrong said the campaign features consumer print ads in both local and national women's magazines. There is also a text messaging component, and “specific local market and diversity outreach elements...to help educate and raise awareness among young women regardless of geography or demography,” said Armstrong. Individuals texting “PREVENT” to 81227 receive a message reading “Talk 2UR Doc About vaccination, Pap tests & other things u can do,” plus a link to the awareness website.

GSK's Cervarix vaccine, approved in the US last October, will go head to head with Merck's blockbuster HPV vaccine, Gardasil, which is also indicated for genital warts among men and boys. GSK told MM&M in October that it would not pursue an indication for treating males.

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