Real voices highlighted in campaign for HPV test

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Real voices highlighted in campaign for HPV test
Real voices highlighted in campaign for HPV test

Qiagen, a creator of medical testing technologies, has developed TV spots and a Web site to promote its test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.

The commercials were created in part­nership with agency Gotham Inc. Each features the story of a mother, narrating her story of being diagnosed with HPV, but catching it before it became cancer.

“We started this campaign because many doctors are not yet automatically offering the test with a normal PAP, so women need to ask for it,” said Pam Rasmussen, VP of consumer marketing communication for Qiagen. “Just because doctors have these clinical guidelines and capabilities, doesn't necessarily mean they're being adopted.”

The advertisements began last month and will run for approximately 10 weeks in select markets. “We went around the country doing public relations and noticed that stories of real women really changed women's behaviors,” said Rasmussen. “Having a real woman speak to other women about this has proven to be very compelling.”

The ads also drive viewers to a Web site,, where users can learn more about the virus, send in questions and sign up for an e-mail newsletter. The site was relaunched at the beginning of this month. Before the relaunch, it was reporting 260,000 unique visitors per month.

“There is a lot of noise in the market about the [HPV] vaccine, which has a much higher budget than we do,” Rasmussen said. “The vaccine is most effective for young girls and women who have not been exposed to the virus. Once you're older and have been exposed to this infec­tion, the vaccine won't give you the full protection. The test is the best protection for mature women.”

Rasmussen stressed that these adver­tisements contradict the stereotype that women who develop this infection are sexually promiscuous. “This is something women need know about and talk to their doctors about,” she said. “It's like having high cholesterol. Just because you have it doesn't mean you're going to have a heart attack, but you need to know that you're at risk.”

Digene, which originally developed the test, was acquired by Qiagen last year. Its test is currently the only one that has received FDA approval.


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