How Many Marketing Campaigns Have Eliminated a Disease? Pampers Has One

Effort With Unicef Credited With Saving 500,000 Newborns in 17 Countries

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The world is rife with cause-marketing campaigns, but few, if any, can claim to have eliminate a disease in any country, much less 17 of them. Pampers has one that can.

The One Pack = One Vaccine campaign from the Procter & Gamble Co. diaper brand has been the key funding source behind a Unicef effort that has effectively eliminate maternal neonatal tetanus from 17 African and Asian countries since the campaign began in 2006, the pair are announcing today. And while the effort has fallen short of Unicef's original goal of eradicating the disease globally by 2015, the two are continuing their partnership to eliminate the disease in another 20 countries where it persists.

In all, the Pampers effort has raised funds for more than 300 million vaccines for 100 million women in just shy of a decade, preventing the deaths of around 500,000 babies, said Nada Dugas, the Geneva-based communications director for P&G baby and feminine care who was one of the executives who helped launch the program.

"How many times in your life can you say, 'I'm helping to eliminate a disease?'" said Ms. Dugas. "We liked that there was something that you could measure, and the results would be really rewarding."

That also helped make the campaign resonate with consumers, particularly in Europe where it's attracted the most attention, she said.

"Every day we hear a lot of issues and problems, and moms can get overwhelmed very easily," Ms. Dugas said. "By bringing it to a simple choice of One Pack=One Vaccine that helps protect the baby, that really did the trick for them."

The idea originated with Pampers looking for a baby-related cause to support its mission of caring for babies beyond its products, she said. Unicef brought up maternal netonatal tetanus as a disease that still needed funding and attention but had slipped off the radar for governments and philanthropists alike.

"It was like an orphan disease," Ms. Dugas said. "And the reason is that it's not relevant anymore in most western countries where tetanus is almost eliminated."

Over the years, the effort has enlisted help from numerous celebrities, including current global ambassador, English pop singer Emma Bunton. Salma Hayek, who also served as global campaign ambassador, helped bring the effort to the U.S. in 2008 with an appearance on Oprah. Government organizations, the Gates Foundation and Kiwanis International have played roles in the effort too, but the 100 million women vaccinated via the Pampers effort account for the vast majority of the 130 million immunized since 1999, according to Unicef data.

The one comparable global partnership of a similar scale to eradicate a disease is Rotary International's global effort behind polio vaccination, said Daniela Mohaupt, corporate alliances manager for Unicef.

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