In 1999, Whitehall-Robins added a new nutrient, called lutein, to Centrum and Centrum Silver multivitamins.  Lutein is shown to help prevent the leading cause of irreversible blindness in older Americans: Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), as well as help prevent the onset of Cataracts, a debilitating condition that affects more than half of Americans aged 65-74.  Centrum was the first leading multivitamin brand to add the nutrient lutein to its multivitamins.  The addition of lutein provided a strong platform to educate consumers on the importance of eye health.  As a result, Edelman capitalized on this opportunity and embarked upon strategic initiatives to take the lead in elevating consumer recognition of the brand and increase awareness of the benefits of lutein in preventing certain eye diseases.  


Edelman had the opportunity to become the leader and trusted source in eye disease prevention education by reaching out to consumers and the media with an eye disease prevention campaign.  One of Edelman’s main challenges was to elevate awareness of lutein, which had virtually no recognition among consumers and the media.  Edelman’s other main challenge was to bring to life complicated scientific messages by personalizing the story and packaging it in a way that would resonate among consumer and the media.


Edelman’s objectives were to generate widespread awareness among consumers that Centrum/Centrum Silver now contains lutein and to elevate awareness of the antioxidant lutein by educating the media and consumers on its benefits in preventing AMD and Cataracts.


To communicate complicated lutein/eye health messages, Edelman identified World Champion Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard as a celebrity spokesperson, who generated strong media interest and appealed to the demographics of both Centrum and Centrum Silver with Lutein.  Sugar Ray was the perfect candidate for this campaign because his father suffers from AMD and has had cataracts, which puts him at greater risk for these diseases.  In addition, Sugar Ray is historically associated with eye health- a detached retina injury almost ended his boxing career.  To effectively communicate the science behind the campaign, Edelman researched and identified David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition in the Department of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, to accompany Sugar Ray on media initiatives and serve as spokesdoctor for media outreach.  Centrum leveraged breaking Cataract/AMD lutein studies, and conducted all media outreach in conjunction with eye health awareness months- February AMD/Low Vision Month, June Vision Research Month and October Family Eye Health Month, adding further value and significance to eye disease prevention messages. 


The Centrum/Centrum Silver with Lutein public awareness campaign was executed in three waves:

I. AMD/Low Vision Month – February 2000

Live Appearance on the Donny and Marie Show

On February 1, Sugar Ray was interviewed on the Donnie and Marie show, where he successfully communicated all Centrum/Centrum Silver with Lutein key messages.

Featured Segment on Access Hollywood

Access Hollywood aired a segment of the Donny and Marie interview with Sugar Ray on February 1.  

Video News Release/B-roll 

The VNR/B-roll package was distributed via satellite and hard copies and aired on CBS Newspath and key markets including Atlanta, New York, Dallas and Miami.

National Radio Media Tour

A national radio media tour featuring Sugar Ray and Dr. Heber was conducted.

II. Vision Research Month – June 2000

Emerging science showed that lutein may also help prevent the development of Cataracts.  Cataracts are a huge concern as about half of Americans ages 65 to 74 have Cataracts, and that number increases to 70% for people 75 and older.  Because life expectancy is increasing, it is estimated that by the year 2020, there will be more than 12 million people over 65 who will need treatment for Cataracts, and by 2010, the cases of blindness related to this condition may double.  The following components formed the basis of the second wave media outreach program to communicate key Centrum/Centrum Silver with Lutein and cataracts messages:

Deskside Briefings with Dr. David Heber

Interviews were conducted with Dr. Heber with key national consumer publications, during which he delivered all key messages.  Each national magazine editor received a Centrum/Centrum Silver with Lutein press kit, boxing glove key chains, pocket binoculars, and samples of product.  Interviews were conducted with the following national publications:

B-roll Package

The b-roll and generic packages were fed to local and national television stations on June 13th and June 14th.

Satellite Media Tour

The satellite media tour was a tremendous success.  Both Dr. Heber and Sugar Ray Leonard did an excellent job communicating key Centrum/Centrum Silver with Lutein and cataracts key message points in all interviews.  


The radio media tour was also a success, and again, both Dr. Heber and Sugar Ray Leonard did an excellent job delivering key Centrum and Centrum Silver with Lutein messages.


Press release was sent over national news wire and mat release was distributed to local newspapers nationwide.

III. Family Eye Care Month October 2000

Edelman identified an opportunity to pitch Sugar Ray for interviews from his home in LA to position the story in a personal and family oriented way.  

Satellite Media Tour with Sugar Ray at home in LA

Utilizing Sugar Ray’s home setting was of  great appeal to the media.  He did an excellent job conveying key Centrum/Centrum Silver with Lutein messages.


I. AMD/Low Vision Month

Donnie & Marie Show- 8,100,000 media impressions

Access Hollywood segment- 7,200,000 media impressions

Video News Release/B-roll- distributed via satellite and hard copies, aired on CBS Newspath and key markets including Atlanta, New York, Dallas and Miami.

National Radio Media Tour- a total of 20 national and local interviews were conducted

II. Vision Research Month

Deskside Briefings with Dr. David Heber- interviews conducted with nine national consumer publications

B-roll Package- to date, the b-roll package has generated over 10 million media impressions and aired in markets including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Miami, Houston, and Dallas

Satellite Media Tour/Radio Media Tour- there were a total of thirty-five national interviews in top markets including New York, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Dallas, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Atlanta, generating over 10,000,000 impressions

Press Release/Mat Release- sent over national news wire and mat release was distributed to local newspapers nationwide

III. Family Eye Care Month

Satellite Media Tour- over 21 national and local broadcast interviews were conducted
Total impressions:  Over 377,000,000