Project name PR launch introducing the new effect of the VIROSTOP oral spray
Client Herb-Pharma Corporation
Implementation period 2020
VIROSTOP medical devices have been on the market for more than 9 years and have never been promoted in the media by the manufacturer. The turning point came in the autumn of 2020, when an in-vitro virological study confirmed that the VIROSTOP oral spray, previously marketed as prevention against common viral diseases, also serves as protection against SARS-CoV-2. We managed to present an unknown product from an unknown manufacturer in a credible way and increase their sales by almost 1500% without the support of other marketing tools. To break the existing distrust we applied a mix of intensive media relations, online event, SoMe management and CSR.
The biggest challenge was to convince journalists and the general public of the credibility of our message. While in the Czech Republic the client chose “soft” communication based on the effectiveness of the natural components of the solution, in Slovakia we promoted a very open product communication from the very start, although we struggled with the distrust of the media. At a time of pandemic, the society is extremely wary of companies that “want to profit from a crisis”, especially if it is an unknown brand with a direct reference to SARS-CoV-2. The goal was to make the general public aware of the effects of VIROSTOP as quickly as possible and to increase sales.
We based the presentation of the effects of the VIROSTOP oral spray on presenting the results of a study conducted by virologist I. Jankovics, whose scientific team proved the efficacy of the solution against SARS-CoV-2. We placed great emphasis on eliminating potential crisis communication by pointing to the safety and “history” of the medical device, as well as the transparency of the manufacturer. We also considered it important to establish contact with health and social care institutions, as representatives of the most affected group of society.
The communication with media was kicked off with a Czech-Slovak online press conference (note: together with the Ogilvy CZ agency), where we managed to ensure the participation of important Slovak opinion-forming and healthcare media. The key message was the announcement of the scientific findings of the Hungarian virologist I. Jankovics, who was the main speaker. It resulted in exclusively positive editorial responses, for example article Maďarský virológ o KORONAVÍRUSE: Pandémiu môže zmierniť sprej vyrobený na Slovensku (Hungarian virologist on CORONAVIRUS: The pandemic can be alleviated by a spray manufactured in Slovakia).
We further developed the topic in media by connecting it to current events in the society, e.g. Slovaks’ concerns about how to have a “normal Christmas” and protect the loved ones, or the business aspect – how the demand for a natural barrier against SARS-CoV-2 infection is growing.
We have established cooperation with the University Hospital in Nitra and with Senior social homes across Slovakia, which received thousands of VIROSTOP sprays from Herb-Pharma to eliminate the risk of infection for their employees and clients. We prepared an online video on this in a media collaboration with NMH and influencer Zuzana Vačková. At the same time, we successfully started the brand communication on Facebook from scratch.
Following the press conference and intensive media lobbying, information on the effects of VIROSTOP was published in editorial in leading mass media such as Topky.sk, Pravda.sk, Pluska.sk, Staritup.sk and others. With the support of a modest media budget (€ 3,000), a total of 100 media outputs were published. The video on the donation of sprays to the Social Services homes achieved 126,830 views. However, what is most important from the client’s point of view, three days after the start of communication, the stock of oral spray was sold out and during the 2.5 months of PR activities, the sale of VIROSTOP increased by almost 1500%.