Pharma PR Tries to Spin Gold From Yawn

Americans may tire quickly of some pharmaceutical PR, but they've got nowhere to turn (certainly not in bed) when it comes to a new campaign sponsored by the makers of a sleep-fighting medication, Provigil. Drug-maker Cephalon hired Dorland Global Public Relations, which has spun consumers' disinterest in "sleepiness" into a Homeland Security-like campaign for "alertness." The trick: target employers. "No employer is going to allow you to bring advertising into their marketplace," notes Cephalon PR director Sheryl William. Instead, employers opened the door when Dorland created an "education" campaign, including two ex-NASA scientists, to warn employers that the lack of alertness at work could be dangerous. Among other things, Provigil has FDA approval for treatment of "shift work sleep disorder"--a condition that can result from employers' rotating shift requirements. Dorland also created a website and launched a pilot in Atlanta and Chicago that included street interviews and visits to baseball games. The "alertness" website (which gently leads the viewer to Cephalon) has reached four times its hoped-for audience.