With Abbott and Medtronic crowding into a market it has long split with Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis is looking to raise the profile of its Cypher stent with a consumer advertising campaign – a possible first for the category.

The company launched newspaper ads earlier this month in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The ads, by BBDO, show an actual-size image of the stent under headlines reading “Tennis partner,” “Hiking gear” and “Gym Equipment.” Copy advises angina sufferers that a Cypher stent “can help get your blood pumping and your body moving once again. So you can get back to living life – playing tennis, running, working out, even sexual activity – without chest pains.”

“The goal is to help facilitate discussion between patients and physicians about coronary artery disease, the treatment options and of course, Cypher as well,” said Carol Goodrich, director of corporate communications for Cordis.

A revamped product site, featuring new patient information, went live in September, and the firm is employing search engine optimization to boost its rankings in Yahoo and WebMD searches.

On the professional side, the company fielded a massive presence at this week’s Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference for interventional cardiologists in Washington, DC. New journal ads, by BBDO’s Omnicom sibling Harrison + Star, will debut soon.

Edelman is handling PR for the effort, while interactive is being handled in-house by J&J’s global advertising department.