Issue Communications

Bringing Attention to a Cruel Mystery

With the Lupus Foundation of America


01 / Background

Lupus is one of the world’s cruelest, most unpredictable, and devastating diseases. In 2012, the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) hired GMMB to raise the profile of lupus and their new brand, defining lupus as a “cruel mystery.”

2012 - 2013
Public Relations / Digital / Creative Content / Movement Building / Brand Strategy / Advertising

02 / Strategy

LFA tasked GMMB with increasing national visibility and understanding of lupus and driving patients and physicians to events in 10 target markets. Prior to the tour, GMMB worked with LFA to conduct a survey and found that awareness was critically low, particularly in Latino and African-American communities. Our strategy focused on reaching these audiences in bilingual and niche publications, as well as leveraging celebrity and community spokespeople to generate interest. In addition, GMMB engaged leaders of large minority-populated churches to reach their congregations with campaign messages.


03 / Work

For the multi-city tour, GMMB developed and implemented an integrated communications campaign that included earned media, advertising, digital marketing, event management, and community outreach in each market. GMMB developed and designed all of the creative elements of the multi-city Cruel Mystery Bus Tour, including the 45-foot tour bus, which included interactive displays to help the public learn about lupus by putting them in the shoes of people who live with the disease.

Exhibits included an interactive body tool that leveraged Kinect technology and a touch-screen wall with real stories from people with lupus. Cruel Mystery Tour Bus participants used branded decoder “glasses” to “reveal” the mysteries about lupus. The exhibit provided visitors with multiple opportunities to take action: sign a petition, make a donation, and provide their email address.

Large eye glass sculptures also accompanied the bus and were strategically placed in markets to generate buzz and drive traffic to the campaign website. These large pop-ups increased interaction and meaningful conversations with participants. GMMB also conducted targeted advertising to raise awareness of the tour and reinforce LFA messages. Print and digital advertising on Google and Facebook directed patients and doctors to the campaign website to enroll in education events.


04 / Results

Paid, earned and owned media garnered an estimated 200 million impressions over the course of the tour, successfully raising the visibility of lupus and the LFA. GMMB’s outreach generated more than 500 stories in print, TV, radio and digital outlets, including NPR, Huffington Post, Univision, and Telemundo. During each tour stop, LFA’s Facebook page received an average of 900 new likes and an average of 15,000 people talking about LFA.