Public Relations Campaign: 'With Love, Me'

Merck and W2O Group created their patient-centered campaign built on interviews that asked, “What advice would you give yourself on the first day of your diagnosis?” (W2O Group)

Category: Public Relations Campaign
Winning campaign: “With Love, Me” Presented by Your Cancer Game Plan
Client: Merck & Co.
Agency: W2O Group

It’s human nature that when faced with a difficult challenge in life, people draw comfort and guidance from others who have had similar experiences. That's especially true for people diagnosed with cancer.

However, cancer can be a difficult thing to talk about. Patients struggle to discuss the psychological impact of a new diagnosis—feeling overwhelmed, scared, and confused, for example—even with family and close friends.

To tackle that disconnect, Merck and W2O Group worked with about 20 patient advocacy groups to ask patients and caregivers: “What advice would you give yourself on the first day of your diagnosis?”

The result was “With Love, Me”, a campaign built around the heartfelt stories of people who have battled cancer or are caregivers, sharing hard-earned wisdom in letters to their newly diagnosed selves.

RELATED: 'Passion point': Katie Couric, Merck unveil expanded cancer-stories campaign

Journalist and cancer awareness advocate Katie Couric, who lost her husband and sister to the disease, helped share the stories, and, along with former NFL quarterback and campaign ambassador Jim Kelly, stimulated a national conversation about cancer in the media and through their social media channels.

The campaign also grew out of research into social media and the company’s cancer support site, Kristen Drake, director, global communications at Merck, said. The company found that patients and family wanted to engage with content from others who have “walked in their shoes."

W2O managing director Melissa Luke added that it's important for Merck to go beyond the medicines the company makes and provide other resources for cancer patients.

Working with the advocacy groups revealed that these people “feel very much alone and isolated, even if they have friends and family. We developed ‘With Love, Me’ with the patient and their loved ones in mind,” Luke said.

RELATED: Letter to myself: In Merck campaign, cancer patients look back on their diagnoses with heartfelt advice

The campaign resonated with its target audience, with more than 160,000 people visiting the website, more than 2,700 using the #withloveme hashtag and almost 900 impressions on national media, including broadcast outlets like CBS This Morning, CBS Radio, Associated Press and Fox News.

“I met so many wonderful people who understand what I'm going through and went through,” one bladder cancer survivor said of the campaign. “It was so nice to compare stories and meet people who are in ‘the club’.”

Public Relations Campaign: 'With Love, Me'