2012 Bronze Anvil Winner Highlight: Build Smart, Breathe Easier: Building Asthma Awareness One Home at a Time


Despite efforts to improve asthma management in the early 2000s, the disease continued to be poorly controlled. In fact, people may not have realized that triggers in their home can have a profound impact on asthma, potentially leading to worsening of the disease. 

With its vision and mission to save and improve lives, Merck worked with Edelman to tackle these issues by identifying a creative hook in getting people with asthma to think differently about ways to manage their disease. 

This led to the creation of Build Smart, Breathe Easier – a national, non-branded asthma education campaign centered on the building of four homes with asthma-healthy features for families in need and impacted by asthma, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and HGTV carpenter, Carter Oosterhouse. 

To generate consumer and media interest, and educate about a disease state in which therapeutic innovation is not robust, Edelman employed a yearlong media strategy to elevate awareness of unmet needs in asthma care and empower patients toward better disease management by reducing indoor triggers and revisiting their asthma action plan. 

Build Smart, Breathe Easier implemented a phased media approach using a mix of earned and controlled tactics targeted at local and national print, TV, online and radio outlets. The campaign was activated in May 2017 with an aggressive push to national and local media coinciding with Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. 

Maintaining momentum throughout the year, the campaign maximized opportunities to continue conversations with media contacts during key program milestones, including volunteer build days and dedication ceremonies in each of the four home build cities and the return of national talk shows in September 2017. Additionally, an advanced multimedia platform “ARC Engagement” was utilized to host an all-inclusive digital press kit to refer and drive media. 

The Build Smart, Breathe Easier Web site housed important information about asthma impact and tips for asthma-healthy homes – serving as the main call-to-action for consumers. 

Tailored press materials were developed for launch and local outreach, including media alerts and pitches; press releases announcing launch and dedication ceremonies; SMT/RMT media alert, MAT release and ANR script; key messages and Q&A; program and asthma-related fact sheets.

For national outreach, the program launched with New York media day – conducting desk side briefings with key national media, including Ladies’ Home Journal and Everyday Health. Outreach continued with a nationwide SMT/RMT featuring Oosterhouse and asthma expert, Dr. Reynold Panettieri. Follow up throughout the program resulted in coverage by three high profile national media outlets, including “The Rachael Ray Show,” MSNBC.com and a segment on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. 

Specific local outreach was conducted in four cities with high asthma prevalence where healthy homes were being built and dedicated: Detroit, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Each city offered interviews and home tours with Oosterhouse, the partner families and four local asthma experts. Two waves of local media outreach were pursued in each market, including outreach targeting Hispanic outlets and spotlighting the program’s Spanish-speaking partner family in Los Angeles. 

Following the development of social media content, sample tweets and Facebook posts were shared with partners to announce program updates through their respective channels. Furthermore, social media dialogue occurred with home improvement/DIY and lifestyle bloggers during the campaign launch. 

Build Smart, Breathe Easier achieved 547 million impressions garnered from more than 2,220 placements in broadcast, online and print media – all of which included one of five key messages. The campaign drove a total of eight national placements, which exceeded the goal of two. Garnering more than 12 million impressions, the SMT aired on more than 350 broadcast and online outlets nationwide. 

Local media efforts generated 19 original articles and 17 broadcast segments – surpassing a goal of five in each market. 

In addition, spokespeople participated in more than 50 media interviews, coverage was generated by 40 blogs; more than 300 tweets were posted, and 10 YouTube videos mentioned the campaign with more than 500 views as of 2012.

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