Minds in Motion Depression Awareness Campaign
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Holmes Report

Minds in Motion Depression Awareness Campaign

Despite growing public awareness about depression, the condition remains a highly underrecognized and undertreated medical condition—in fact, nearly seven million Americans who suffer from depression do not seek treatment for the condition.

Paul Holmes

Despite growing public awareness about depression, the condition remains a highly underrecognized and undertreated medical condition—in fact, nearly seven million Americans who suffer from depression do not seek treatment for the condition. This can be attributed to two main factors: 1) a lack of awareness/understanding of the condition’s specific signs and symptoms, and 2) the stigma surrounding the condition that often prevents people from seeking help. 

Pfizer and the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) teamed up to address these challenges and created the Minds in Motion Depression Awareness Campaign—a national program involving five elite female athletes: Olympic soccer star Julie Foudy, first female Hall of Fame thoroughbred jockey Julie Krone, Olympic skier Heidi Voelker, Olympic basketball all-star Teresa Weatherspoon and Olympic diver Wendy Williams (please see attached biographies).

The athletes (two of whom suffered from depression), along with the program’s exclusive sports retail partner The Athlete’s Foot, medical experts on depression and exercise, a fitness trainer and representatives from two leading national mental health organizations participated in one national and six local market events/media tours between October 2000 and April 2001, including the first ever walk-a-thon led by elite athletes working together to raise awareness about depression. 

The campaign also included media partners Oxygen Media, Heart & Soul magazine, and Fitness magazine. More than 70 million media impressions have spread the Minds in Motion message; 57 percent of this coverage directed consumers to the Minds in Motion toll-free information line, which provides information about depression and its treatments, and 24 percent of this coverage mentioned Zoloft, Pfizer’s treatment for depression. To date, the 800 number has received more than 20,000 calls, and more than 3,000 people received information on depression at the local events nationwide.


Target audience: Women ages 25-54

Objectives: 1) Increase awareness about the signs and symptoms of depression among women aged 25-54 and their colleagues, families and friends through calls to the toll-free information line, media coverage and attendance at national and local events; 2) De-stigmatize depression by defining the condition as something that can affect anyone, even Olympic athletes who exemplify physical strength and mental discipline; 3) Increase awareness that depression is treatable; 4) Raise funds to support education and outreach initiatives for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the National Depressive and Manic-Depression Association (National DMDA).

Research: Research played a critical role in the development of the Minds in Motion campaign strategy and helped identify the WSF as the most effective third-party organization with whom to partner to educate women about depression and empower them through role models to seek help.  A review of clinical research indicated the following:
· Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, and as many as one in four women will experience depression in her lifetime.
· One-third of people suffering from a major depressive disorder seeks no treatment for it, and approximately only one in 10 of those suffering from depression receives adequate treatment.
· Many individuals who are suffering from depression improve with treatment including medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two, and some individuals can benefit from a regimen that also includes exercise. ,

Based on these findings, CCA sought to identify a women’s organization devoted to women’s fitness/sports, as well as inspirational female athletes who could provide personal stories about their experiences with depression.  After investigating numerous groups, it became evident that the Women’s Sports Foundation had the right mission, reach and strong connections to sports/fitness athletes to ensure the campaign’s success. Moreover, Minds in Motion perfectly complemented WSF’s ongoing programs on improving women’s health and well-being.

Strategies: 1) Partner with WSF and collaborate with NAMI, National DMDA, The Athlete’s Foot, Oxygen Media, Heart & Soul, and Fitness to expand consumer reach and breadth; 2) Utilize celebrity athletes to increase interest in depression awareness and de-stigmatize the condition; 3) Initiate Four-phase Campaign Launch: a) Pre-launch Outreach, b) Launch Event, c) 5K Walk and Fitness Forum in NYC, d) Local Market Events at The Athlete’s Foot Stores/Media Tours surrounding the events; and 4) Advance research on attitudes about mental health/depression through development and execution of a research study assessing how depression is viewed among coaches and athletes.  The research report, co-sponsored by Pfizer and the WSF will be released in February 2002.

Messages: 1) Depression is a serious medical condition with nine signs and symptoms that can be treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two; 2) Anyone can have depression, even Olympic athletes who exemplify mental discipline and physical strength; and 3) Exercise can play a role in a comprehensive depression treatment regimen.


Phase 1- Pre-launch (The Warm-Up): The Pfizer/WSF partnership was announced six weeks before the Minds in Motion campaign launch.  Significant media coverage was garnered from a hometown (St. Louis) media tour featuring inaugural spokesperson Wendy Williams.  This media tour resulted in nearly 4 million media impressions and primed the national media for the forthcoming campaign launch. 

Phase 2 - Launch (The Kick-Off): Minds in Motion was launched October 5, 2000 (National Depression Screening Day) at a New York City press event featuring all five athletes, a medical expert, and representatives from The Athlete’s Foot, media partners and nonprofit organizations. Publicity was achieved through national dissemination of a press release and photo of the athletes, a VNR, poster/brochure distribution at The Athlete’s Foot stores nationwide, and coverage by 60 percent of the 23 reporters who attended the launch event.  National coverage included Associated Press, Exhale, Pure Oxygen, a feature article in SELF magazine, Bloomberg Radio, and multiple online stories. 

Phase 3- 5k Walk and Fitness Forum in NYC (The First Half): All five athletes, representatives from Pfizer, WSF, The Athlete’s Foot, NAMI, National DMDA and the media partners led 700+ New Yorkers in a 5k Walk and Fitness Forum in New York City’s Battery Park on October 22, 2000.  Over $25,000 in proceeds benefited NAMI and the National DMDA. Walk publicity included advertorials in New York Press, Time Out New York and The Village Voice, calendar listings in several New York City papers and newsweeklies, including the New York Times and New York magazine, and entry brochures distributed throughout New York City and surrounding areas.

Phase 4-Localizing the National Campaign (The Second Half): The first of six local retail events was held in New York City in conjunction with a SMT and VNR featuring Julie Foudy and a psychiatrist.  Held at The Athlete’s Foot stores in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle and Chicago, the Minds in Motion local events feature an athlete, Pfizer and WSF reps, a local psychiatrist, and a physical fitness expert speaking about the importance of depression awareness, educating the public about its signs and symptoms and participating in a group fitness routine.  More than 2,200 consumers have participated in these six events, and nearly 16 million people have been reached via event media coverage, including a syndicated story in the Los Angeles Times. 

Extended Outreach/Research (Overtime): A mat release was distributed beginning in December 2001, and the research report on coach/athlete attitudes about depression will be released in February 2002, further expanding Minds in Motion’s consumer reach.


Thus far, coverage from the Minds in Motion Depression Awareness Campaign has generated more than 70+ million media impressions.  57% of impressions included the toll-free information line as a depression resource, and 24 percent of this coverage mentioned Zoloft, Pfizer’s treatment for depression.. 

The toll-free information line received more than 20,000 calls from September 6, 2000 to February 1, 2002.

More than 3,000 individuals participated in the 5K Walk and Fitness Forum and retail events across the country and received information about depression and its treatments; Minds in Motion posters with “depression self-quiz” tear sheets and take-one/bag stuffer educational brochures were displayed/distributed in more than 400 The Athlete’s Foot stores nationwide.

More than $25,000 was raised in walk-a-thon registration fees/pledges to benefit NAMI and National

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