Media coverage of allergy treatment is highly predictable: General allergy coverage occurs in the early spring and focuses primarily on local seasonal news and antihistamines. That’s bad news for FLONASE® Nasal Spray, a prescription treatment that offers multi-symptom relief from all nasal allergy symptoms, including those related to household allergens, which occur year-round and aren’t covered within the spring allergy coverage window.

To help FLONASE secure branded publicity and communicate treatment messages during the “non-allergy season,” Marina Maher Communications (MMC) recommended that the brand 1) “Own” a publicity-generating vehicle to deliver messages about the product’s efficacy, despite no new indications or clinical studies; and 2) Create an innovative program that applied the strategies of consumer PR while working within the legal and regulatory parameters of an Rx drug. Finally, the program had to help explain the superiority of Intranasal Corticosteroids, of which FLONASE is the leading brand. The brand also wanted to drive allergy sufferers to its Web site to build the database.

Working with the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Product Communications team, MMC successfully met all these needs by creating the FLONASE “Give Your Home the Steps Toward Allergy Relief” (STAR) Treatment, a Web-based, national contest to uncover the dustiest, moldiest, most allergen-packed homes across America.

The program generated branded publicity at a critical time of year for the brand and became the cornerstone of a multi-disciplinary marketing effort which:  1) Grew brand awareness by 12 points over the previous year;  2) Increased trial by 7%, while overall category trial declined 1%; and 3)  Boosted brand prescription volume by 9% during the contest, while its largest category competitor declined by 6%. 

· Grow awareness of the INS treatment category and FLONASE Nasal Spray as a brand of choice among nasal allergy sufferers.
Generate media coverage beyond the traditional spring allergy window.
Educate consumers about FLONASE “multi-symptom” relief message.


Develop a national campaign with a strong grassroots/local media component.
Create branded hooks and news to strengthen brand visibility.
Reinforce that FLONASE provides relief and is a year-round allergy management source.


We needed to answer three questions to launch and effectively publicize the STAR contest:  Would a contest related to home allergens be credible and relevant?  Would consumers enter the FLONASE Give Your Home the STAR Treatment contest via the FLONASE  Web site? What were the proper venues to publicize the contest to the FLONASE target demographic, and would the media find the topic compelling, cover the contest and convey our product message about relief?  

Consultations with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology revealed that home allergens present a more chronic form of allergic rhinitis than do seasonal allergies.  Lexis-Nexis searches, and visits to relevant health and allergy Web sites and news groups, revealed that indoor allergens (e.g., pet dander, dust mites, mold) affect thousands of homes in the U.S., thereby causing long-term allergic reactions among the population. So we knew this topic had both health credibility and relevance.

Research via “American Demographics” confirmed that women with higher HHI, the key FLONASE target, surf the Internet for health information. So it made sense to conduct the contest through and to promote it via Web sites.

The same research confirmed that this group gets their morning news from TV and radio first, newspapers second.  Our soft soundings with these media outlets revealed strong interest in the subject.

Contest Execution:

To enter, allergy sufferers logged onto and explained in less than 100 words why their home deserved the STAR treatment.

Three grand prize winners received:
A thorough, professional home cleaning by Jeff Campbell, author of Speed Cleaning and president of “The Clean Team,” San Francisco’s largest household cleaning service and his “Clean Team” to reduce allergens.
A visit by a local allergist to assess/address the health implications of an allergen-packed home.
A cash prize of $5,000 to stock up on cleaning supplies.

Every entrant received a STAR wheel, an easy-to-follow guide to allergen removal for each room.

For the first 5,000 entries, FLONASE made a contribution to HELP USA, the nation’s largest provider and developer of housing for homeless and low-income families.

Publicity Execution:

Our two spokespersons, Campbell and Dr. Deborah Fawcett, Fellow of the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, announced the contest via a VNR and a radio media tour, utilizing two of the media outlets which our research indicated our target most frequently turned to for health information. 
MMC spread the word about the contest nationwide via Web outreach, one-on-one media contacts, an audio news release, targeted media mailings, a matte release and radio DJ mailings.

Each communications vehicle included not only a brand mention, but treatment messages, a critical success measure for this brand.

Publicity Results/Concrete Evidence of Success:

Overall, the FLONASE Give Your Home the STAR Treatment, generated 30 million consumer impressions in less than 7 months, extending coverage for the brand beyond spring.
MMC’s Web outreach generated postings on 24 news, health and contest Web sites, driving traffic to

Our efforts resulted in in-depth brand/INS category messaging in more than 80% of coverage.

MMC generated extensive contest publicity in two post-spring waves, successfully overcoming the media’s reluctance to cover allergies after early spring, extending the acceptable allergy news coverage season, and generating branded news stories when they would reach sufferers of household allergies, a critical FLONASE audience.     

Contest announcement in May resulted in 16 million media impressions through:
A VNR which generated more than 200 airings.
A radio media tour and audio news release which fostered some 32 radio spots.
· A newspaper story syndicated by Copley News Service and coverage by such major newspapers as the New York Daily News, Atlanta Journal, San Diego Union Tribune and the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Winner publicity has generated 15 million media impressions to date, from:
Remote SMT from a winner’s home, which generated 15 interviews in such markets as New York, Phoenix, Tampa and Milwaukee.
Local media efforts in the three winners’ hometowns. 
Six local radio drive-time interviews.
An internet press release posting, which resulted in use of our video footage and winner announcement on

Contest/Marketing Results:

The FLONASE Give Your Home the STAR Treatment contest generated 5,000 entries in less than four months – 4,200 solely through publicity and 800 from Direct Mail, increasing the brand’s direct mail database.

The contest was adopted by other FLONASE marketing partners: direct mail, promotion and Web agencies in their brand initiatives.

Together with other marketing efforts, the PR program helped FLONASE achieve the following:

Sales data reports that trial grew from 36% to 43% vs. 2000, while overall category trial decreased from 61% to 60%.

Reached 93% brand awareness – 12 points higher than 4Q00.

Total Prescription Volume grew 9% during the contest, while its largest category competitor decreased by 6%.

Achieved the highest ARS Persuasion TM score (a qualitative measure of likelihood to try) on record for any allergy brand to date.  The high score set a new standard for both GSK DTC brands and the entire prescription allergy category.