Achievements in Medtech Marketing

Award-winning medical device campaigns reflect the innovation of the products they highlight.

Steve Halasey

September 1, 2008

16 Min Read
Achievements in Medtech Marketing


The International Awards of Excellence (In-Awe) program, put on by the Healthcare Communication and Marketing Association Inc. (HCMA; Mt. Royal, NJ), is designed to recognize outstanding strategically driven creative work in healthcare marketing. The awards program was originally started in 1985 by the Medical Marketing Association, which at the beginning of 2008 merged with the Healthcare Marketing and Communications Council and the Midwest Healthcare Marketing Association to form a single national entity serving a membership of more than 2000 medical marketers.

"In-Awe awards submissions set a new record in 2008," says Mark S. Perlotto, executive vice president and managing director at Adair Greene McCann (Atlanta) and HCMA recognition committee chair. "When all the entries were in, 148 companies submitted a total of 938 entries across 65 categories into this year's competition—a 15% increase over 2007."

The In-Awe competition is one of the largest competitions in the world of healthcare marketing, with more than 900 entries submitted each year. The entries represent more than 160 companies operating in a wide range of healthcare disciplines, including medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biotech, and healthcare services. Entries are judged by a panel of industry experts on both strategy and results, not just the visual creative appeal of the work.

"This year's panel of 39 judges represented all corners of the healthcare marketing world," says Perlotto. "Representatives from agencies and manufacturers, as well as marketing and media consultants, brought their expertise to select the best work in medical marketing from the past year. From all the submissions, those judges selected 147 winners they deemed worthy of either a gold, silver, or bronze In-Awe award for 2008."

This year's awards were presented to winners during a ceremony at HCMA's inaugural annual conference, held in Dallas this past June. "The 65 In-Awe categories for 2008 span the spectrum of healthcare marketing to include advertising, medical education, print, digital, and online initiatives, as well as live activities such as conventions and trade shows," says Perlotto. "What makes In-Awe unique among industry award competitions is its focus on marketing strategy and results as well as creative execution as parts of the evaluation criteria. The winners of an In-Awe award are much more than just pretty pictures."

In this article, MX highlights the challenges, strategies, and execution behind some of this year's winning medical device campaigns.


At the first annual meeting of the Healthcare Communication and Marketing Association Inc. (HCMA), Monica Noce Kanarek, executive vice president for creative at Donohoe Purohit Miller (Chicago), accepts the agency's silver award in the 2008 International Awards of Excellence (In-Awe) program from Mark S. Perlotto, executive vice president and managing director at Adair Greene McCann (Atlanta) and HCMA recognition committee chair.

Donohoe won the award for its creation of the branding logo for the HERmark breast cancer assay by Monogram Biosciences Inc. (South San Francisco, CA). The first assay to make use of the company's VeraTag technology platform, the HERmark assay can identify metastatic breast cancer patients who are most likely to respond to specific treatments. Given many options, HERmark assays help facilitate an oncologist's treatment choice. This is where the idea behind the dots and the highlighted 'selection' was born.

Journey Knee campaign
Archer/Malmo Inc.
for Smith & Nephew


At the Philadelphia Flower Show launch of the In-Awe winning Journey Knee campaign by Archer/Malmo Inc. for Smith & Nephew, yoga and fitness experts demonstrated simple exercises that knee pain sufferers could do to minimize pain and help increase or maintain mobility.


Flower show attendees crowded the Smith & Nephew booth for nine days to relax in the massage chair, receive knee-friendly gardening tips, sign up for giveaways, or just find out more about the Journey Knee.

Marketing agency Archer/Malmo Inc. (Memphis) was recognized in this year's In-Awe competition for its work on the Journey Knee consumer public relations campaign for Smith & Nephew (London).

Smith & Nephew's Journey Knee was uniquely designed for a younger target audience—baby boomers. The consumer public relations campaign needed to address not only the physical pain boomers feel from knee ailments, but also the emotional and mental pain. They needed to know the Journey Knee was specifically and uniquely designed to get younger patients back to the activities they love.

The campaign aimed to create an effective communication stream that maximized the conversion of inquiries to leads—those who obtained contact information for a specific Journey surgeon.

In launching the Journey Knee campaign, Smith & Nephew broke new ground by becoming the first medical device company to sponsor the Philadelphia Flower Show. The event sponsorship gave the company the opportunity for one-on-one engagement with target consumers—women aged 45 to 65 living with osteoarthritis. This boosted local lead conversion from 40 to 64%. The campaign used media relations surrounding the flower show and in additional key markets to penetrate 58 markets and garner 2.5 million impressions.

The campaign won a gold In-Awe award in the category of public relations, consumer.

VAC GranuFoam Silver Dressing
HC&B Healthcare Communications
for Kinetic Concepts Inc.


Members of the team from HC&B Healthcare Communications who created the In-Awe winning campaign for Kinetic Concepts Inc. (from left): Harrison Saunders, creative director; Amy Smith, account director; and Dave Walker, creative director.


HC&B Healthcare Communications developed an interactive direct-mail promotion for KCI that increased sales of the VAC GranuFoam Silver dressing by 48%.

One year after Kinetic Concepts Inc. (KCI; San Antonio, TX) launched a new dressing technology—the VAC GranuFoam Silver dressing--for its market-leading vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) therapy system for advanced wound care, the company engaged HC&B Healthcare Communications to develop a direct-mail campaign that would build product awareness and encourage sales.

The creative challenge for HC&B was to combine existing knowledge into a powerful message that, like the product itself, delivered more than the sum of its parts. Working with HC&B, KCI had already established uncommonly high awareness of VAC therapy among its target audiences. In addition, the use of ionic silver therapy was not new in wound care. Although clinicians were familiar with both VAC and silver therapies, however, they didn't know that the two could be combined in the same system for optimal outcomes. HC&B's strategy was to show that combining VAC therapy with ionic silver therapy renders both therapies more effective.

To demonstrate the unique mechanism by which ionic silver is infused into the pores of the GranuFoam dressing, HC&B created an interactive direct-mail piece with movable parts that delivered a simple and straightforward message: KCI has advanced silver therapy by combining it with an already powerful technology that is known and trusted—VAC therapy.

The results speak for themselves. After the launch of the print ad campaign, sales of VAC GranuFoam Silver jumped 48% from their baseline. Today, VAC GranuFoam Silver makes up 15% of all GranuFoam sales in the acute-care market.

The campaign won a bronze In-Awe award in the category of direct-mail print campaigns.

All About U
Seidler Bernstein
for Boston Scientific


Members of the Seidler Bernstein team who created the In-Awe winning campaign for Boston Scientific Urology (from left): Rob Kinslow, vice president of strategic communications; Kathie Coe Renner, vice president and executive creative director; Alla Litovchenko, associate creative director for art; and Tod Brubaker, associate creative director for copy.

Boston Scientific is a leader in the market for less-invasive medical devices. As part of a strategy to strengthen its relationship with the urology community, the company joined forces with Seidler Bernstein to create a highly targeted multidisciplinary campaign.

The challenge was to convince urologists that Boston Scientific shared their interests and goals, and was committed to helping them be successful. Urologists can be an especially skeptical audience. The work is not glamorous, their caseloads are enormous, and many feel underappreciated.

Seidler Bernstein's strategy was to emphasize the value that Boston Scientific brings to the urology market beyond its innovative, high-quality products. When the creative team noticed that a stent used for kidney stone removal looked exactly like a heart, the "We (heart) Urologists" ad was born.

But to convince this wary audience, the team members at Seidler Bernstein knew they had to do more than create a vibrant, attention-grabbing ad. They had to back it up with a comprehensive program of services and support to help urologists succeed in the areas they care about most: their patients, practices, and futures.

The program, called "All About U," included an ad, mailer, sales rep training and trade show materials, and a logo. It launched at the American Urological Association trade show, where it was well received by urologists. In fact, there was a stronger than expected demand for "We (heart) Urologist" buttons and other branded giveaways.

The campaign won a silver In-Awe award in the category of convention—trade show—exhibit traffic builders.

Solutions Algorithm for Wound Care Management
iMed Studios
for ConvaTec


Sample screens from the CD-ROM based interactive Solutions algorithm for wound-care management, designed by iMed Studios for ConvaTec.

First launched ten years ago by ConvaTec (Skillman, NJ), a world-leading manufacturer of wound therapeutics and ostomy-care products, Solutions algorithms for wound care were developed to assist healthcare professionals make correct wound-treatment decisions. Solutions algorithms have been content-validated by national and international wound care experts.1,2

In 2007, Solutions algorithms were accepted by the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) as the only set of comprehensive, content-validated algorithms for pressure ulcers and lower-extremity ulcers in the United States. The newest version, which received accolades in the 2008 In-Awe competition, is a CD-ROM-based interactive module that supplements in-depth printed resources.

"While the original Solutions algorithms pieces were extremely successful in print form, we wanted to provide a streamlined and more user-friendly approach to accessing all the information in one easy-to-use interactive tool," said Stephen Forden, ConvaTec vice president and U.S. general manager. "As a leading company in modern wound care, we will continue to develop cutting-edge resources like this tool and provide trusted, proven, evidence-based support for the busy clinician."

iMed Studios (New York City), a Publicis Healthcare Communications Group company that provides innovative digital solutions for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, developed the interactive Solutions algorithm resource. While any digital communications company would have a blend of the requisite geeks and marketers on hand to strategize, guide, and build successful digital solutions, it was iMed's deep roots in health sciences and technology that set itapart. The company's core competencies include modern solutions for healthcare professional promotion and education, consumer and patient education, on-location and events, and sales force support and internal communications.

"We were thrilled to be able to develop a creative and innovative digital program that will truly aid in the achievement of better healthcare," said Carol Jacobson, president of iMed Studios. "It is wonderful to have this accomplishment recognized by the international healthcare community."

The Solutions tool by iMed for ConvaTec won a silver 2008 In-Awe award in the category of medical education, interactive, innovative programs.


  1. L Bolton et al., "Wound Healing Outcomes Using Standardized Care in Clinical Practice," Journal of Wound Ostomy Continenece Nursing 31, no. 3 (2004): 65–71.

  2. J Beitz and L van Rijswijk, "Using Wound-Care Algorithms: A Content Validation Study," Journal of Wound Ostomy Continenece Nursing26 (1999): 238–249.

access2wellness Campaign
Lehman Millet
for Johnson & Johnson


Poster for Johnson & Johnson's access2wellness campaign, developed by Lehman Millet.


Home page for the access2wellness campaign Web site, created by Lehman Millet for Johnson & Johnsont.

How do you speak to the universe but make the communication feel very personal?

Lehman Millet (Boston) was faced with that conundrum when helping Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc. (J&J; New Brunswick, NJ) launch access2wellness, a program designed to connect patients with information about a broad range of assistance programs, such as free or discounted prescriptions. The primary audience: under- and uninsured patients. Secondary audience: physicians, hospitals, and J&J employees.

Research revealed that in general, the target population responded negatively to photographs of 'people like me.' Invariably, the person represented in the photo seemed different (wrong race, wrong marital situation, or wrong manner of dress—'I'd never wear a necklace like that'). Group photographs simply muddled the connection further. While the target population is large and diverse, it was critical to find a way to connect with potential users on an individual basis, and lead each to see that access2wellness could be a potential resource.

The Lehman Millet team developed a creative, easy-to-identify-with series of illustrations with diversity and character. The distance that an illustration created allowed the target audience to engage with the idea rather than an individual character in the campaign.

The illustration approach proved powerful in testing and has borne out in the market as evidenced by strong responses from patients, physicians, and J&J employees—and rapidly expanding use of the program.

Lehman Millet's campaign for the J&J access2wellness program won a silver award in the 2008 In-Awe competition, in the integrated campaign, public service category.

OrthoPAT Advertisement
Lehman Millet
for Haemonetics


In-Awe winning ad for the OrthoPAT system by Haemonetics, created by Lehman Millet.

If you're going to change someone's behavior, you have to start by getting their attention.

Today many orthopedic surgeons rely on traditional blood transfusions (blood bank or self-donated) to replace blood lost during surgery. Blood-banked blood can be easily contaminated, and predonated blood must be donated several weeks in advance of surgery. This can result in the patient developing anemia and, if blood is not used, it ends up being discarded. Haemonetics (Braintree, MA) has a better answer that requires a real change of behavior: blood replacement with higher hematocrit (red blood cell) by using patient's own blood during surgery.

Lehman Millet was tasked with raising awareness of the OrthoPAT system's unique product benefits. The product washes the blood during surgery and delivers back a blood hematocrit level of 70%, compared to the low level of 50% from predonated blood or blood-banked blood, and the even lower level (30%) from unwashed blood salvage.

The Lehman Millet creative team used the famously-recognized circa 1970s lava lamp as an icon to capture attention and interest, and serve as a tie-in to the hematocrit level--70s--delivered by the OrthoPAT system.

In the 2008 In-Awe competition, Lehman Millet's campaign for Haemonetics won a bronze award in the category of journal advertising, full or fractional page.

Manage IV Pain Campaign
Lehman Millet
for Anesiva


Home page of the Web site, created by Lehman Millet for Anesiva.


To prime the market for Anesiva's product to reduce the pain and trauma that children associate with intravenous drug delivery, Lehman Millet created an integrated campaign to reach nurses who treat pediatric patients.

There's no doubt about it, kids see the world differently.

And they feel differently too. Which is why Anesiva (South San Francisco, CA) is launching Zingo—an innovative drug-device combination that delivers a rapid, local anesthetic for pediatric IV sticks and blood draws.

Protecting kids from IV pain sounds like a slam-dunk, but research revealed many doctors are apathetic. The real opportunity lies with nurses--those faced with administering the IV—to raise their hands as champions for change. Impassioned nurses spoke to the trauma of IV sticks and blood draws with pediatric patients. Some even noted that the children looked at them as though they were 'monsters.'

At Lehman Millet, those insights became the catalyst for Manage IV Pain, an integrated campaign to prime the market for Zingo. The agency's creative solution was based on reimagining the notion of what kids fear to immediately drive home the magnitude of IV pain's impact on children.

The 'monsters' have been used in direct mail, trade show materials, sales aids, and advertising to drive nurses to, where they find techniques and tips to help manage IV pain through distraction techniques, language, and positioning. There, they are encouraged to join RN Voice, a coalition of nurses who will become champions of change toward ending pediatric IV pain.

The campaign launched with great results, generating extraordinary booth traffic at nursing trade shows, excellent Web traffic, and healthy registration for RN Voice.

In the 2008 In-Awe competition, Lehman Millet's campaign for Anesiva's combination drug-device product won two silver awards in the categories of journal advertising, spread; and integrated campaign, professional/trade.

Toga System Brochure
for Satiety Inc.


Branding brochure for the Toga system and procedure by Satiety Inc., created by ODA.

Medical device company Satiety Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) is the developer of the Toga system, a set of devices used in transoral gastroplasty—a noninvasive, transoral procedure for the treatment of obesity. To introduce its novel solution—which is currently being evaluated in a multicenter U.S. study—Satiety needed a memorable brand that could garner attention in an increasingly crowded treatment field.

Satiety's vice president of marketing, Rachel Croft, came to Bay Area branding agency ODA (San Francisco) to develop Toga's brand from the ground up. One of the brand's initial marketing pieces was a brochure explaining the procedure to Toga's primary target audience, bariatric surgeons.

"We wanted to establish Toga in the minds of physicians and communicate its benefits in a visually stimulating manner," said Tom Haan, ODA partner and lead strategist.

ODA's resulting creative solution centered on a close-up, sepia-toned image of an open mouth. This bold visual was coupled with the headline, "Obesity treatment that's easier for your patients to swallow." This poignant lead served as a nod to Toga's being a transoral procedure that is less invasive than gastric bypass surgery.

"We loved the fresh, eye-catching approach of this piece, said Croft. "We felt it was a great match for Toga's unique offering."

ODA's branding brochure for Toga won a gold award in the 2008 In-Awe competition, in the category of sales rep materials, sales/product brochure/detail aid.

Tegaderm CHG In-Service Training Tool
StoneArch Creative
for 3M Medical


Home page of the in-service training tool for 3M Healthcare's Tegaderm CHG in-service training tool by StoneArch Creative.


Online page illustrating application technique for 3M Healthcare's Tegaderm CHG, from the in-service training tool by StoneArch Creative.

Tegaderm by 3M Medical (St. Paul, MN) is the market leader in IV securement dressings. Growing concern over healthcare-associated infections led to development of Tegaderm CHG, which imbeds chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG)—a powerful antimicrobial—within the transparent film dressing.

The challenge facing StoneArch Creative (Minneapolis): provide 3M sales reps with a training tool that demonstrated the product's ease-of-use, intelligent design, and innovative integration of the CHG antimicrobial. The tool would need to work for onsite in-service training sessions and as a leave-behind for hospital clinicians unable to attend the training.

StoneArch Creative's strategy was to develop a user-friendly, interactive CD-ROM in-service training tool. The tool provides an overview of product features and benefits, and detailed, full-color, original illustrations and photos that show correct application and removal techniques at three different IV insertion sites. The drawings were leveraged for printed application posters, and StoneArch Creative also executed an exciting and successful product launch event for 3M Medical.

Always on the lookout for products that improve patient care and reduce the risk of infection, clinicians love using the in-service tool, and learning the 'hows' and 'whys' behind the innovation of a product they are very familiar with and use multiple times per day.

The Tegaderm CHG in-service training tool by StoneArch Creative for 3M Medical was recognized with a silver award in the 2008 In-Awe competition, in the category of medical education, interactive, innovative programs.

Copyright ©2008 MX

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