Merck women's health spinoff Organon debuts first awareness campaign, taking on unplanned pregnancy

When Merck's women’s health spinoff Organon launched in June, it promised to listen to—and amplify—women’s voices on overlooked health concerns.

Now, the company is getting specific. With the debut Tuesday of its first public awareness video, “Let’s Talk About Unplanned Pregnancy,” Organon hopes to ignite a conversation about an issue that affects 121 million women around the world every year.

Timed to coincide with World Contraception Day on Sunday, the 45-second public service announcement shows the faces of several women, representing different races and cultural backgrounds. A voiceover asks: “What if I told you there is something that can instantly turn her world upside down?”

The video goes on to portray a woman sitting on a bathroom floor, staring at a positive pregnancy test. It references the financial, emotional and societal impacts that can result from an unintended pregnancy.

“For some it brings joy,” the voiceover says, “but for others it means an uncertain future.” 

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The ad ends with an invitation for women, their families, healthcare providers and others to share ideas for tackling the problem on Organon’s website.

The campaign’s goal is to “rip the stigma away” and to show that the face of unplanned pregnancy is “every woman, everywhere,” Wendy Lund, Organon’s chief communications officer, said. 

“She could be your sister, she could be your daughter, she could be your friend,” Lund said.

High numbers of unplanned pregnancies constitute a global health crisis, she said, but the problem is often difficult for women to talk about. She noted 41% of all pregnancies worldwide are unplanned, a figure that is slightly higher (45%) in the U.S.

“We really want to raise the level of discussion … and begin to understand why these staggering rates continue to exist,” Lund said. 

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Lund cited a 2019 study showing more than 270 million women worldwide have an unmet need for modern family planning and said the campaign aims to “help women get the information, the education and the empowerment they need to make the right decision for themselves.”

Although the campaign is unbranded, the New Jersey-based company’s portfolio of women’s health products is led by Nexplanon, a long-acting, reversible birth control implant. The company also makes the hormonal-based birth control device NuvaRing. 

The video will air on local TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. and globally on social media. Organon also partnered with women’s health advocacy organizations such as Power to Decide and women-focused media outlets like The Lily to promote the campaign.