Novo taps five experts for their brash take on menopause

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Novo taps five experts for their brash take on menopause
Novo taps five experts for their brash take on menopause

Novo Nordisk's latest women's health effort is taking on a distinct voice and approach to menopause. Instead of creating a campaign from the ground up to talk about vaginal dryness associated with menopause, the drug maker has brought together five women's health advocates with established social media followings and a less-than-clinical tone under an umbrella called the GLAM alliance, with GLAM standing in for Great Life After Menopause.

Among the recruits: author and blogger Ellen Dolgen, whose homepage has a can't-miss call-out for Menopause Mondays with the headline “Celebrate Menopause Awareness Month – Save the Vaginas!” the day the alliance launched and Barbara Hanna Grufferman, whose site BestofEverythingAfter50.com includes tips like the “What's the #1 best exercise for hips, thighs, and you know what?”

Founder of FabOverFifty.com, Geri Brin; founder of Red Hot Mamas, Karen Giblin; and Menopause Makeover author Staness Jonekos make up the rest of the alliance, with Mary Jane Minkin weighing in as the group's medical consultant. Novo's senior manager of product communication Shannon Sanders says that although Minkin is not part of the loud, alliance of “sassy” advocates, her sensibility matches theirs. Sanders says the doctor greets patients by asking “how's your vagina doing?”

Sanders told MM&M the idea for the alliance, which will hold events such as Google Hangouts starting next month, came from agency Marina Maher Communications, which has worked with the drug maker for several years. The agency told Novo that the women in Novo's key target audience -- those in their mid forties and up -- were looking for vibrant content about a topic women do not like to discuss among themselves or with healthcare providers.

Sanders said that unlike erectile dysfunction, which men talk about and which appears on TV ads, women do not like to talk about menopause-related vaginal dryness because “it's like taboo.” Sanders said Novo pulled together these advocates because they were influential and unafraid to speak out and "really drive the conversation and make it as loud and robust as possible.”

These “ambassadors for vaginas” will continue to create their own content, but Sanders said the GLAM affiliation means these advocates will now also cross-promote each other's content. The GLAM website was spare on launch, and features headshots and bios of the participants and a Novo logo in the footer. It also includes links that lead to a long-standing Novo-branded website called VaginalDiscomfort.com, which provides resources and information about menopause. It also includes a link to Novo's prescription Vagifem product.

Novo senior director of hormone therapy marketing John Spera said in a statement promoting the launch that GLAM “is not a campaign; it's a movement for empowerment and women's health and it's long overdue.”

Sanders said Novo will create new tools and resources and that GLAM members can choose to relay that information through their networks. She said Novo will not be creating content for each network, but that the focus is really on the advocates and bringing together multiple voices about the topic.

The advocates will also work with Novo to see if the tone of a post fits the brand and if Novo wants to be name-checked. A recent example: Dolgen's August 27 Facebook post has the message, “Has your vagina gone from frolicking on the beach to stranded on a desert island? Let's talk vag rescue in Sept!” and the hashtag #NovoNordisksponsor.

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