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I Walk Because Program Gives Consumers a Voice
Date:6/18/2009

- Provide Rich Social Media Experience For WalkMS Participants -

NEW YORK, June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Reinforcing its commitment to those who support friends, family, and other people living with multiple sclerosis, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness partnered with Acorda Therapeutics to relaunch the online component of the "I Walk Because" program. The site delivers a personalized user experience through the use of enhanced social media applications.

The site, www.iwalkbecause.org, relaunched to coincide with the 2009 season of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's WalkMS program, is the online extension of Acorda's presence at 30 of the largest Walks around the country. Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness partnered with Studio PMG, a California-based multimedia company, to incorporate cutting edge technology into the build and execution of the site.

The "I Walk Because" program features a dynamic booth that invites Walk attendees to share why they are walking by personalizing a t-shirt and recording a video. The online space was created to extend the physical presence at WalkMS events by providing an interactive community where walkers can share their experiences.

"The marketing success of the 'I Walk Because' program is its ability to connect the actual walk experience across multiple media channels and create a meaningful way for all participants to be engaged," explained Jim Joseph, Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. "The entire program is about providing a powerful experience for those who live with MS, and that encompasses the walks themselves and sharing the adventure."

In addition to hosting the videos that are captured at the booth, visitors to www.iwalkbecause.org can register to create a personal profile which allows them to upload and share their own walk experience, including photos and thoughts for others in the MS community. To keep the site active, registered users also receive a series of emails inviting them back to the site to view content from other walk participants and make them aware of new features that are added on an ongoing basis.

"When we launched the 'I Walk Because' program in 2008, our goal was to build a strong online community to help connect all of the friends, care partners, and people living with MS who take part in the WalkMS program each year," said Erica Wishner, Director of Consumer Marketing, Acorda Therapeutics. "We received really positive feedback on 'I Walk Because,' and decided to enhance the online user experience in 2009 so that the content and functionality would engage people throughout the year, not just around WalkMS."

Walkers can use their personal profiles to showcase their walking gear, playlists, favorite snacks and all the content they have uploaded to the site, including videos that they appear in. In addition to all of the community generated content within the site, it also provides a video podcast series which follows four different people as they participate in the 2009 Walk season. These participants were recruited through a variety of social networks, and were selected as winners of the "Every Step Is A Story" contest, created to identify real people living with MS who wanted to share their personal stories.

About Acorda Therapeutics

Acorda Therapeutics(R) is a biotechnology company developing therapies for spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and related nervous system disorders. The Company's marketed products include Zanaflex Capsules(R) (tizanidine hydrochloride), a short-acting drug for the management of spasticity. The Company's pipeline includes a number of products in development for the treatment, regeneration and repair of the spinal cord and brain.

About Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

Under Jim Joseph's leadership, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness (formerly Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Health+Wellness) began a transformation in 2007 from an agency focused solely on healthcare advertising into a fully integrated wellness agency. The agency handles integrated marketing for clients along the entire wellness spectrum including Nexium, Ambien CR, Plavix, Durex, Frontline and Transitions, among others. It provides a full-range of marketing solutions including advertising, digital, direct, promotion and social marketing strategies. The agency was created to leverage the value of marketing wellness as a differentiator for healthcare, lifestyle, foods and other brands. Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness is a unit of the Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications Group, part of the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. You can find out more about Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness at www.saatchiwellness.com or at www.saatchiwellness.blogspot.com.


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SOURCE Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness
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