The First Erectile Dysfunction School for Women
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

The First Erectile Dysfunction School for Women

The challenge was to create awareness for Lilly´s erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis within the constraints of the EU and Spanish directives concerning prescription drugs.

Paul Holmes

The challenge was to create awareness for Lilly´s erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis within the constraints of the EU and Spanish directives concerning prescription drugs. Within this framework lies the additional complication of the taboos inherent in Spanish culture regarding all topics sexual, and in particular topics relating to male sexual dysfunction as the Spanish “macho” culture precludes such conditions from existing!


Cohn & Wolfe has historically obtained great results with annual campaigns generating awareness on the importance of being sexually active and healthy and making known the solutions for erectile dysfunction in the Spanish market.


As we are unable to name the product directly, the main objective for Lilly is to increase men´s visits to the urologist, in the form of an annual check up (the percentage of men doing this is very low). This enables men to have specific conversations and detect any symptoms or problems. In this sense, our strategy is focused on reaching men through women: Women act as key figures in a man´s support network, and help and encourage men to visit the doctor in general and to address any sexually related problems.


Experts agree that women are a key element in detection and treatment of sexual dysfuntion. This affliction affects quality of life of the patient and his partner and needs to be addressed by both. In Spain, due to cultural and religious factors, men will never admit to having such a problem.


In a relationship, erectile dysfunction is not only a problem for the man, it is also a problem for the woman. It can also be indicative of other disorders such as diabetes. In order to generate awareness on the problem of male sexual dysfunction, Cohn & Wolfe created a breakthrough concept: The First Erectile Dysfunction School for Women!


The opportunity


Cohn & Wolfe´s challenge was to develop a campaign focused on women, based on first hand information previously not readily available and by limiting the “school” to women, to generate as much media buzz and outreach as possible in general as well as trade and medical media.


The strategy was to reach the women in general and wives of potential patients emphasizing women´s role in the treatment of the pathology, giving them an understanding of the condition and its symptoms and ensure their understanding of the importance of regularly visiting the urologist.


Furthermore, focusing the information not just at the potential sufferer (the man) but at the partners was a new to the Spanish market, aggressive and innovative way to target the media. This packaging of the information in the guise of a “school” which “teaches” women how to detect and present erectile dysfunction awoke media interest and generated a lot of buzz in a very conservative country.


Cohn & Wolfe enlisted a well known sexologist and urologist to talk about the causes, symptoms, detection and treatment of erectile dysfunction, of course including CIALIS. As an independent specialist, surrounded by women, a very productive debate and Q&A session was generated – AND televised by the broadcast media not only as a “first”, but as a session of great interest!


As a result, the team combined scientific information with the human, male and female side of the condition, garnering both interest and credibility from the media.


The event itself


The First Erectile Dysfunction School for Women in Spain took place in Madrid, in January 2008. It was a half day session for women aimed to raise awareness among women about erectile dysfunction. The well-known urologist and sexologist informed women about erectile dysfunction: causes, consequences, prevention, treatments…After the meeting, women were able to talk individually with the doctor about their own sexual health problems.


Over 100 women were selected and attended the event, which was held in a non medical related venue for the school: a Palace called Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, famous for its artistic and cultural events and heritage.


Cohn & Wolfe was in charge of event planning, organization as well as all the media relations. The team contacted all the media and sold in the story to trade, general and lifestyle media. They were invited to the meeting and were given information about the School. Print media, such as male and female magazines, regional and national newspapers and medical & health media. Broadcast and radio were invited to attend and interview the CIALIS urologist. One to one interviews were managed and placed in print, radio and television before, during and after the event.




The event was a huge success, both with the attending women and the different media types, with over 24 pieces of quality coverage and reaching an audience of over 7 million. Two top television programmes, Locos x Madrid and Madrid Directo broadcast the event live, including interviews with our urologist.


Coverage was obtained in media that would not normally cover this sort of topic (e.g. Yo Dona and Mia – top women´s magazines) or radio programmes such as La Sal de la Vida.


Due to the buzz generated around the event, TVE 1, the Spanish BBC equivalent broadcast a 2 hour special on the issues surrounding erectile dysfunction in Saber Vivir, the most important Spanish TV programme on health and wellness. Our physician spokesperson was the special guest and the program included interviews, audience questions and the product actually shown!.. which was completely unprecedented.

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