Asthma nonprofit launches awareness, treatment PSA during Olympics

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The nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) launched a PSA-centered effort to raise awareness of the two main causes of asthma, airway constriction and inflammation, on February 16. The campaign, which has financial and editorial support from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, features TV spots, a microsite, e-mail newsletters and social media.

The TV ads are running on NBC during the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The 30- and 60-second TV spots drive consumers to a microsite, asthma.com, which is run by Glaxo. The site has resources from the AAFA and links to the organization's homepage.

Angel Waldron, marketing and communications manager at the AAFA, said the nonprofit has used direct mail newsletters and e-mail in past efforts, but the PSA is a new channel for the group.

The AAFA distributes its bi-monthly newsletter to about 50,000 people and sends e-mails to about 10,000.

“Getting e-mail and print subscribers isn't the main goal of the campaign, but it's always a bonus,” Waldron said. She explained that the campaign's primary goal is to promote prescription use for asthma sufferers, even if they do not have symptoms on a particular day. Its intended audience is consumers of all ages with asthma.

“Asthma sufferers could still be inflamed and not know it,” she said. “Not taking the meds can lead to bigger problems.”

On the microsite, consumers can watch videos, get tips on managing symptoms and opt in to receive e-mail newsletters from Glaxo. The e-mails include coupons, as well as information on asthma's causes and treatment options. The coupons are for GlaxoSmithKline's asthma product, Advair, which treats airway constriction and inflammation.

The AAFA is also targeting consumers through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Care2, an online community for healthy and green living. Waldron said the AAFA has more than 4,600 followers on Facebook and 134 on its Twitter page.

A GlaxoSmithKline representative could not be immediately reached for comment.  

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