Demonstrating the ongoing resurgence in the pharmaceutical category, Astellas Pharma US, Inc. has launched its first national sports marketing program with a three-year partnership with the PGA Tour.

The partnership centers around the PGA Tour’s inaugural Women’s Initiative, a program designed to establish a conversation about health and wellness and draw new audiences to PGA Tour events.

Similar to how other pharmaceutical companies use sponsorship, Astellas partnered with the pro golf tour to raise awareness of medical conditions and promote relevant products. Astellas will use the tie raise awareness of overactive bladders, a medical condition for which it markets products.

While millions of women suffer from bladder problems, most wait seven years before seeking treatment, according to the National Assn. for Continence.

The sponsorship comes on the heels of the October 2012 launch of Myrbetriq, a product used to treat overactive bladders and urinary incontinence. Astellas also markets Vesicare, another product that treats OAB.

And Astella isn’t the only company launching products for overactive bladders. The Food and Drug Administration this month gave the green light to Merck & Co.’s Oxytrol for Women, a product touted as the first over-the-counter treatment for overactive bladders in women.

In addition to the Women’s Initiative, the PGA Tour plans to launch three other marketing platforms designed to engage new audiences and draw new sponsors.  The three platforms: families/youth, college students and charities.

IEG SR spoke with Donna Fiedorowicz, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of tournament activation & outreach, and Pamela Buford, Astellas’ director of consumer and urology marketing, about the new partnership.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation:

The genesis of the PGA Tour’s new marketing initiatives
Fiedorowicz: Our tournaments are set up as 501C3s, and we have raised just shy of $2 billion for charities. That model is important.

As we worked with tournaments on long-term planning, we stepped back and said ‘we have events that benefit local communities, but we would like to broaden the scope of consumers that we engage. We want to create a platform that expands our reach and allows us to touch different demographics.’

We identified four buckets: women, family, college students and charities. Each platform expands upon what some of our tournaments have already been doing, but our approach is different. Our goal is to create the programs, secure sponsors and provide a turnkey program back to tournaments that will provide great ROI for each umbrella sponsor and help drive attendance from consumers that might not otherwise step foot on a golf course.

We plan to test three to five events for each platform before we step up to secure corporate partners. Last year we tested eight women’s events, all of which sold out.

On securing interest from Astellas
Buford: The women’s platform piqued our interest. Like the PGA Tour, we pride ourselves on our charitable endeavors, and we have a personal compassion to engage the communities in which we live and work.

The partnership provides an opportunity to talk about our products and engage people in the community that we haven’t spoken with before.

The elements of the program
Buford: The program currently has two components. The first component is the Executive Women’s Day. It’s a phenomenal opportunity for C-level executives and guests to come together and network. Health and wellness is a platform that works well with the tour, and we hope to evolve the program as needed.

The other component is the Astellas Pavilion. It’s an on-site experience where attendees can network and learn about wellness issues. It’s something that we’re still working on.

On using the program for brand marketing
Buford: Brand marketing is something that we’re looking at. We’re looking at the program holistically to get the most benefit for the PGA Tour and the people that we want to engage. As part of that, we hope to tie-in promotions at the product level.

Product pipelines are the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry, and this is an exciting year for us. We launched Myrbetriq in October 2012, as well as a new oncology product.

Any product tie-ins with most likely be with our urology products. There are disorders and diseases that are not often talked about. There are 46 million people, primarily women, with overactive bladders. This is an opportunity to talk about different disease states and educate women about their options.

The ways to reach our stakeholders are changing by the minute. Social media and traditional media are growing and expanding, and we can’t continue to do what we have always done and expect the results we want. This is an opportunity to do something innovative and help grow an audience that we want to talk to.