BI puts non-profit at the wheel of COPD campaign

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Drive4COPD celebrity spokesperson Danica Patrick
Drive4COPD celebrity spokesperson Danica Patrick

Boehringer Ingelheim is handing over the keys to its public health initiative, Drive4COPD, to the non-profit COPD Foundation. BI spokesperson Emily Baier told MM&M that the company planned to hand over the project to a third party within two years, though the company will still provide an undisclosed amount of financial support.

“We wanted to create something on par with the great public awareness campaigns like Red Dress and Livestrong,” said Baier. “We felt that for the fourth largest cause of death not to have a campaign associated with it was an outrage.”

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease refers to a group of diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The project has included a mix of celebrity and web support since its 2010 launch, and a social media push Baier says was the company's broadest to date. She said the social media component had some surprises, including Twitter's impact—the 140-character platform has been the top-referring platform to the Drive4COPD website. “For those trying to make a case for social media.” she notes, “that's a pretty clear metric for the power that you can have.”

The campaign hit the 1 million-screened mark in February 2011, a number which doubled seven months later.

The social media side also had a shifting-sands component when Facebook turned comments on in August. While a number of pharmas fled Facebook, Boehringer and its partner agencies set up a monitoring system that would let them screen for product-related information.

Baier said they leave the project with more information about how to make the most of the social media space.

“This sounds simple, but I think sometimes you have to actually be in the space to realize the importance of having a very clearly defined call to action, which [in our case] was to get screened,” she said.

The campaign had 58,325 Twitter followers in 2010, which has since fallen to 2,822. Baier said celebrity Twitter handles contributed to the peak, and the lower traffic does not reflect on the campaign's overall strength.

“This is the right time to bring in the COPD foundation, to run it moving forward,” she said.
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