Bayer Aspirin launched a new campaign that hopes to make saving lives as common as the last name Smith. Studies show that chewing an aspirin, as directed by a doctor, as soon as a heart attack is suspected may reduce the risk of death or complications. While this isn’t new information, Bayer wants to help ensure it is common knowledge, since it can potentially save lives.

Earlier this month, Bayer Aspirin launched the new “HeroSmith” campaign, timed to correspond with American Heart Month. The campaign is centered in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Bayer is encouraging the 1,800 residents with the last name of Smith to carry an aspirin with them at all times. But the campaign is not limited to a single city. Anyone can take the pledge to always carry an aspirin at www.theherosmiths.com.

PM360 spoke to Laurie Hekmat, U.S. Marketing Director Bayer Aspirin and Midol and Bayer Consumer Health about the inspiration and planning for the campaign, whether they have plans to expand it, and how it is being received so far.

PM360: What was the inspiration behind the HeroSmith campaign?

Laurie Hekmat: We started with the fact that a heart attack happens every 42 seconds in the U.S. and it’s still the number one killer in the country. We wanted to do something about it, because we all felt really passionate about what aspirin can do in helping to save lives. Over the years, we have received nice consumer letters telling us about how they had aspirin on hand and were able to save their husband, their wife, or sometimes a complete stranger. So we started to talk about what it would be like if everyone could be a hero and carry aspirin, but we decided to start by activating a specific group.

We chose the number one last name in the U.S., which is Smith, and we’re starting in a town with one of the highest heart attack rates in the U.S., Fort Smith, Arkansas. We’re asking all 1,800 Smiths in that city to carry aspirin and have it on hand in case someone around them has a heart attack, so they can be a hero. We also donated $25,000 to the local American Heart Association chapter to help even more in the effort to decrease the heart attack rate in the city.

What exactly do you give each of these Smiths to help them to be a hero in that scenario?

We are giving them a kit that contains a carrying case for aspirin, a $2 coupon for aspirin, and information on the symptoms for a heart attack, including what it looks like if someone’s having a heart attack. We also set up a website, www.theherosmiths.com, where anyone can take the pledge, spread the word, and get the same kit (one per person) so they can carry aspirin to be a hero. The idea is that anyone can do this. We are hoping that eventually it’s more than just Smiths, and that people get the message that anyone can be a common hero.

How did you go about selecting the Smiths from Fort Smith that participated in the campaign and shared their stories on the website?

We had a casting call there and asked people to share their stories. We were looking for people who experienced this scenario in which they were with someone having a heart attack and they took the right action by calling 911 or talking to a doctor, and then helped the person experiencing the heart attack by crushing aspirin or asking them to chew it in order to save their life. We also looked at capturing a range of stories and demographics to showcase the impact of heart attacks and how everyone can help.

Do you have a larger scale plan in place on how to spread the word beyond Fort Smith? Will you eventually expand into other cities?

We’re also sharing the video on Facebook to get people to talk about it and share it. This way we can reach a wider target than just the typical aspirin user. We haven’t discussed launching the campaign in any other cities. Right now, we plan to measure how the campaign does and look at the different aspects to figure out what the most beneficial elements of the campaign are before deciding on any future roll.

Are you doing any follow up with people who take the pledge online beyond sending them the kit?

That is something that we’re considering for the future of the program. When a person does currently sign up, we ask if he or she is interested in future communication related to aspirin.

Have you received any early reaction from the people in Fort Smith or otherwise to the initial launch of this campaign?

The people who we engaged in the video were really positive and supportive. We’ve also received some local press that’s been very interested in the campaign and as a result has been telling other people’s stories that are similar. Additionally, internally our colleagues have such heart for this program and what it can do and are eager to spread the word.

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