PR View by Michael Boken

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When choosing a celebrity product spokesperson in the scrutinized world of pharmaceutical communications, it's essential that great care and consideration is put into the selection.

It's not enough for a celebrity to resonate with your target market. Celebrity spokespeople need an organic connection to the disease state and a true desire to raise awareness, diagnosis and treatment of the disorder. In our current media landscape, consumers look for relevant testimonials they can identify with and trust. With these elements, in conjunction with appropriate timing for your brand, you have an ideal opportunity for a spokesperson campaign.

At Shire, when we were ready to raise awareness of ADHD and the importance of treatment, we saw an ideal scenario upon meeting celebrity designer Ty Pennington. Diagnosed in college and treated with one of Shire's ADHD medications, he was just getting involved with ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and was interested in opportunities to speak about his condition. Medication has improved his ability to focus, and this is a key reason for his continued success.

Pennington has worked with Shire for the past four years on a variety of initiatives, including telling his personal ADHD story to millions of Americans with our annual “ADHD Experts on Call” event. Both the media and consumers have embraced his connection with ADHD, and this consistently results in positive coverage.

In embarking on a celebrity campaign, it is imperative to find a genuine personality who reinforces the product message through their personal and professional life – one who can embrace the cause and not merely be a poster boy for a disorder.

Michael Boken is senior product director of Vyvanse, the next generation of ADHD treatment, at Shire Pharmaceuticals

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