Case Study: MSD Animal Health: The Big Tick Project

Summary

Shout! Communications supported MSD Animal Health with full broadcast PR support for The Big Tick Project, a campaign to increase awareness about the risk to humans and animals, from dog ticks. The aim was to drive sales of Bravecto, a product to prevent dog ticks, available only on prescription through vets’ practices. Naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham was chosen to front the 18 month long campaign which culminated with an awareness event on Wimbledon Common.

The Project

If you’ve got a dog then you and and your pet are potentially at risk from ticks and the diseases they carry, such as Lyme Disease. Shout! Communications supported MSD Animal Health as part of a year and a half long campaign to increase awareness about ticks, the pathogens they carry and where ticks are located, with veterinary professionals and pet owners.

MSD Animal Health worked with the University of Bristol to conduct what became the biggest ever study into dog ticks. The first part of the PR campaign was to encourage vets and dog owners to participate in the study. More than 6, 000 ticks were sent in to the university over the period.

A second stage gave an update on the study, revealing that vets had sent the university more than 6-thousand ticks. Giving journalists an additional hook was the news that 4 cases of Babesiosis had been diagnosed. This is a disease rife in Europe but which had only been seen in the UK when pets that had travelled abroad had brought the infection back with them.

The campaign culminated with an awareness event on Wimbledon Common, where the final results of the study were revealed.

 

Project
What We Did

The most significant coverage came at the second and final stage of the campaign. To secure this we offered:

  • B-roll footage shot in Essex, with the vet who had diagnosed the Babesiosis cases, a case study, Chris Packham, the labs at the University of Bristol and close-up shots of ticks.
  • Access to the same, for broadcasters who wanted to do their own filming.
  • Radio interviews from the University of Bristol from a radio studio we had set up in the labs for the occasion and for the study results, from Wimbledon Common.
  • Facility of national and regional TV interviews from Bristol and Essex.
  • Tailored video packages for online media and for vets to show in their practises.
  • A satellite truck on Wimbledon Common to facilitate broadcasters with live interviews.
Challenges

Co-ordination of filming from multiple shoots – the final edits used footage from several sources of filming and these had to flow cohesively and in an engaging way.

This is the video we produced to be shown in vets’ surgeries.

Footage was reliant on the ticks being found successfully – we would have struggled to film non-existent ticks! We required a special camera lens to see the ticks.

Footage had to be turned around very quickly and in a variety of different styles in order accommodate the different audiences.

Outcome

The campaign was a resounding success: we secured 27 national TV opportunities across BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and Sky along with 6 regional TV evening news packages, 8 national radio interviews (including BBC Radio 1, 2, 4 and 5), 30 regional radio interviews and widespread online opportunities.

The goal was to increase sales of Bravecto by 50%, but the target was significantly exceeded and sales actually went up by 82%. A survey of vets said 96% felt The Big Tick Project “made a contribution to science”. This led to an industry wide meeting on the risks of tick borne diseases.

It was a fantastic campaign to work on and a campaign where no stone was left unturned!

See here for some of the media relations highlights