Friday, February 05, 2010

Danica Patrick: NASCAR Driver, Super Model, Superbowl Lingerie Ad Model, & COPD Spokesperson All Rolled Into one!

Lately, I and about 1000 other people who "follow" @boehringerus (Boehringer Ingelheim) on Twitter have been getting several messages like this one:

#4COPD robs people of their ability to breathe. Get screened 2 see if UR at risk & talk to your Dr about your results

It's part of a huge effort to roll out the new "DRIVE4COPD" campaign that BI is sponsoring. BI is jamming its Twitter account with similar messages (see image on left, click to enlarge).

This is a huge social media campaign that involves not only Twitter but also Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. It features the NASCAR racecar driver Danica Patrick.

I just saw Danica a couple of nights ago on a TV show promoting the upcoming SuperBowl ads. She will appear in a lingerie ad, I believe. But she has all her clothes on in the DRIVE4COPD campaign, which is included in the photo montage below:

The campaign points out that "COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the US" and "an estimated 24 million Americans are affected" and "over half of them don't even know it."

In fact, I didn't know that I MAY have COPD! But thanks to the COPD POPULATION Screener™, which the DRIVE4COPD campaign urges every one to take (see the DRIVE4COPD Web site), I now know it and will talk to my doctor about it, which is the goal of DRIVE4COPD.

You too can find out if you MAY have COPD by taking a simple 5 question test! I had no doubt that I would score high enough to be at risk because:
  1. During the past 4 weeks, I DID feel short of breath "a little of the time," like when I had to shovel some snow, and
  2. I DID cough up some "stuff," such as mucus or phlegm, but "only with occasional colds or chest infections," and
  3. I HAVE smoked at least 100 cigarettes in my ENTIRE LIFE, though I quit smoking about 30 years ago, and
  4. I agree (but not STRONGLY agree) that I do less than I used to because of my breathing problems, and
  5. I am a man of a certain age (but I won't say how old).
This is not the first time that I have taken such a screening test without any idea who came up with the questions or how the answers determine whether or not you have a medical condition. In small print, however, I see that the COPD Population Screener is a trademark of QualityMetric Incorporated, which, as far as I can tell, gets its data from surveys of patients.

After taking the SCREENER, you can vote for which DRIVE4COPD Race Team Member (Danica, Bruce Jenner, Jim Belushi, Patty Loveless, or Michael Strahan) you want to win the "Race for the Missing Millons." I don't know exactly what that means, but guess who I voted for?

Regardless of the scientific validity of the COPD Screener, or the other tricks employed to get people involved, I think DRIVE4COPD is a worthy campaign even though BI may profit from it (BI markets Spiriva for the treatment of COPD).

AFTERWORD: NASCAR is a sponsor of DRIVE4COPD along with BI and has renamed an upcoming Daytona race the "DRIVE4COPD 300." Now that I think about it, I find NASCAR and COPD to be an odd coupling. Here's a smog-producing organization/event sponsoring a cause to help people breathe better! In fact, the whole idea of "driving" for COPD is odd! I guess BI doesn't mean that we should all go out and drive our cars for COPD awareness. At least not our Toyota cars!


  1. Another "illness" created to market a drug, what's new!

  2. Anonymous3:25 PM

    I have lived with COPD for 15 years and have been on oxygen for the past 12 years. My experience with COPD tell me that you sound like President Obama when you tell us what we need to know and not what we should know (health care)about this campaign. The primary purpose of the DRIVE4COPD campaign is to heighten COPD awareness. You failed to mention the American Lung Association and the COPD Foundation (both movers and shakers in COPD awareness and legislative issues)are also a part of this effort. If this initiative gets people to see their doctors for testing, then it will have done its job. If it gets a million people screened, then it will have met its goal. If it sells some medication, then guess what, some folks are going to get some relief.

    The 4th leading cause of death in the world is estimated to be the 3rd leading cause of death within the next 10 years. Smoking is a major cause of COPD, but it is also caused by environmental factors. Type A Emphysema is genetic. There is no cure and up to 12 million unknowning people in the USA are going find out they have COPD after it will be too late for them to do as much as they could have done. Articles like the one I am commenting on clearly do not support COPD awareness. Who knows, maybe you are one of the 12 million people who don't know they have COPD.

  3. I did say "I think DRIVE4COPD is a worthy campaign..." There are PLENTY of articles out there that the sponsors have paid for that support COPD awareness.

    Sorry, but my mission is not to write what PR people tell me to write. If you want that, you can read your local newspaper.

    I have my own cause to be concerned about, which is transparency in pharmaceutical marketing.

    Yes, I could have COPD and I could have ER and I could have a number of other medical conditions. But this is not about me.

  4. And this is a GREAT post re: transparency in pharmaceutical marketing!

  5. Danica Patrick is also a great role model for diversity - I use her as an example during my diversity presentations. She proved that there are always exceptions to stereotypes - in this case, all winning car race drivers are male. She blasted through this stereotype.

  6. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Hey from , thought you might want to know that;

    Daytona 500 Qualifying “live in the race” chat kicks off at 1pm -

    And later tonight the Budweiser Shootout finals opens at 8pm -


  7. Anonymous10:04 AM

    This is Non-Branded Advertising at its best. No links to a specific treatment, only the link to BI's website.

    BI happens to manufacture 2 of the most commonly prescribed drugs for COPD - Spiriva(R) and Combivent(R).

  8. And my perception is that if you're a fan of NASCAR, it's pretty much the most important thing in your life.


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