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Smith + Nephew: Birmingham Hip Resurfacing

Challenge

Smith & Nephew, a global medical devices manufacturer headquartered in the U.K. with U.S. facilities in Memphis employing more than 1,800, enlisted RLM to secure national brand awareness for its knee and hip replacement product lines.

In a rapidly-growing and all too competitive marketplace, Smith & Nephew had to position themselves as a leader—which they hadn’t been able to prove until now. Despite operations in 31 countries, nearly 10,000 global employees, and annual revenue of $2.8 billion, they were not as visible as the competition.

Strategy and Tactics

Building on the core messaging— that through superior products, Smith & Nephew gives people the chance to get back their active lifestyles—RLM developed and executed a comprehensive educational media relations campaign built to suit high-profile morning shows, top-tier business and health press, and specialty health media, as well as TV and dailies in strategic markets.

Recognizing that integrating pop culture into the campaign would deliver the visibility Smith & Nephew needed and drive home key messages to relevant audiences, RLM recruited entrepreneur Mark Cuban as spokesperson. We heard before he got the job that he was “up” for starring in ABC’s top-rated Dancing With the Stars just seven weeks after his Smith & Nephew hip replacement.

After suffering for 15 years, Cuban underwent a total hip replacement to resolve excruciating pain from arthritis. In addition to demonstrating the success of his hip replacement on Dancing With the Stars, Cuban’s agreed-upon and wholehearted endorsement served to correct a commonly held misconception, that hip replacements are only needed by the elderly and infirm. Cuban was 49 – and raring to go…

RLM’s media push needed to be perfectly timed to capitalize on Dancing With the Stars’ season premiere while accounting for Cuban’s tenure on the program being dependent on votes every nail-biting week. In only three days, RLM planned a national satellite media tour, booked high-profile print interviews, and trained Cuban to within an inch of his life! RLM also developed talking points for him that meshed with our goals—so the story would be about the Cuban hip, rather than just about the Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Cubs, ABC’s show or life as a billionaire. We created collateral material, including a consumer-focused site that told our story (MyLifeInAction.com).

To keep momentum going, RLM organized a radio tour, a spotlight in TIME Magazine’s “10 Questions” podcast and print and online feature, USA Today feature, a host of local interviews, and the right talking points for Cuban following his departure from the show.

Results

Proof-positive of RLM’s effectiveness came during Cuban’s interview on Good Morning America the morning after his departure from Dancing With the Stars during which he praised his Smith & Nephew hip. This was the first time Smith & Nephew was mentioned on a national morning show.

RLM’s SMT resulted in 164 segments on more than 160 stations in 106 markets seen by more than 10 million people. In addition, Cuban’s story was featured in USA Today.

RLM’s program resulted in coverage in outlets including: