Excellence in Media Relations – Brand Associated Consumer Health

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Consumer launch of 23andMe

by Weber Shandwick for 23andMe

Summary of work

Personal genetics is a hot topic, spurred by the recent UK launch of 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service. Almost 12 years ago one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time was completed when researchers decoded the human genome. Today genetics is not just for scientists. Any individual can explore his or her genes and benefit from the knowledge this provides. However, the ethics of genetic testing meant that 23andMe’s UK launch was likely to be divisive. A creative story, carefully crafted to ensure that consumers were informed but not pressurised, was essential. Given the personal nature of genetic testing, 23andMe had to be totally customer-orientated in its approach. Media relations played a pivotal role in the successful UK launch to consumers and in just six weeks Weber Shandwick executed an exceptional campaign to educate journalists pre-launch, align 23andMe with respected government initiatives and position the company’s CEO at the forefront of the wider debate around genetic testing. The results were outstanding. 232 pieces of coverage were secured (including 40 BBC stories), an astonishing 90% of which were neutral or positive in tone. Importantly, the launch was a business success - we exceeded sales expectations for the first 30 days by 100% with clear spikes correlating to media hits.

Judges’ comments

Weber Shandwick put together a rigorously, well managed and thoroughly planned media campaign. They managed to avoid the sensationalist approach that this topic could lead to, utilising an excellent spokesperson to their full capacity.