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People are always at the centre of what we do. Astellas is dedicated to listening and discovering the unmet need of patients to ultimately help improve their quality of life.

Overactive bladder or OAB is where a person regularly gets a sudden and compelling need or desire to pass urine. This sensation is difficult to put off (defer) and this can happen at any time during the day or night, often without any warning. It affects approximately 2.3 million people over the age of 40 in the UK.

Astellas set out was to understand the challenges people face with Overactive Bladder (OAB), with the objective of helping people to speak with a medical professional about their symptoms. 

“We had research to suggest that people were not coming forward to see a doctor about symptoms of Overactive Bladder (OAB), but we only had assumptions as to why that was” said Neil Parkin, Sales & Marketing Director. “We needed to delve into those assumptions and uncover an insight that would help reach people suffering from symptoms of OAB.”

Through deeper understanding, the team discovered bladder health was often generalised. People living with bladder health problems rarely distinguished OAB from other conditions, such as stress incontinence. Further to this, people living with the condition begin to adapt their life around the condition. These initial adaptations could be very subtle but then develop into significant changes which have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. For example, a negative adaptation could be choosing to not leave the house.

Understanding the challenges people faced allowed the team to get creative with the campaign. “The barriers to seeking help existed at a fundamental level” said Alison Russell, Associate Director of Marketing, “but the research allowed us to look at the tactics sensitively and creatively to implement both well-established channels for disease awareness, such as social media, and industry firsts.”

The team’s omnichannel approach took them in innovative directions. The use of TV streaming services is widespread in the UK, with every major channel in the UK offering some form of service. This broad use provided an opportunity to reach people through the advertising services offered by these channels. F.A.S.T (Free Active Streaming TV) advertising provided a perfect format for the campaign. “A viewer pausing the TV on demand to go to the loo would be shown an advert at the exact moment they were making a negative adaptation to their day.” said Michelle Morris, Senior Marketing Assistant. The adverts were designed to be interactive, so you could click into it and learn more on the bladderproblem.co.uk website.” 

“It’s our understanding that it is the first time a disease awareness campaign, or the pharmaceutical industry, have used this type of advertising,” said Hugh Adams, Communications Manager. “For our campaign it provided the perfect formula of broad reach and targeting to increase the likelihood of someone seeing the advert who may be living with OAB.”

The novel advertising worked, with the streaming service reporting that this was the third highest rate of engagement they had seen for any type of pause advertising campaign across all sectors. When combined with the wider omnichannel approach it created a high level of engagement across the lifespan of the campaign.

Reflecting on the campaign, Rory Buchan, Therapy Area Lead said “The most rewarding part of the campaign was the level of engagement. OAB is a sensitive condition and for people to come forward is a big deal, so when we realised people were sharing the campaign and advocating for others to seek help, there was a real sense of pride."

The innovative approach has been recognised by external industry partners. Astellas was delighted to be awarded three PM Society digital awards (2023). 

  • GOLD - Innovation Creativity category
  • GOLD – Disease Awareness category (public)
  • SILVER - Film category

Jackie Davis, General Manager said “We are hugely proud of this campaign and are delighted for the team to be recognised for their hard work and creativity by the PM Society. This campaign is a great example of how we can maximise our reach to patients by using simple messaging and adopting a true omnichannel approach.”

Helping people with unmet health needs is a motivation for everyone at Astellas. Understanding key insights about the experiences of people living with OAB enabled the team to implement innovative ideas alongside the traditional. It has meant thousands of people across the UK have sought help from a doctor about their bladder health. Ultimately listening to patients has helped us to ensure we turn innovative ideas into true value for patients.


Learn about bladder problems - visit bladderproblem.co.uk


1. Bladderproblem.co.uk - accessed November 2023



November 2023