By  on May 7, 2010

NEW YORK — CVS Pharmacy and La Roche-Posay are sending out an SOS.

Starting next week, CVS will feature in-store materials and target its ExtraCare shoppers with important information about a program kicked off by La Roche-Posay called Save Our Skin (SOS). In the stores, orange-clad — the official color of the SOS campaign — CVS beauty advisers also will help promote skin care awareness and safety.

With its strength in UV protection, La Roche-Posay embarked on a public health awareness and educational campaign to expose Americans to the dangers of UV and the importance of sun safety.

“We want to encourage true behavioral change, not just offer a deal,” said Yannick Raynaud, La Roche-Posay general manager. La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios is one of the most successful sunscreen franchises by dollar volume in the U.S., according to sales data.

“As a health and beauty destination, CVS is committed to raising awareness around important health issues like skin cancer,” said Cheryl Mahoney, vice president of beauty for CVS Pharmacy. “This [SOS] campaign will help our customers to understand that, through smart sun care practices and regular skin checks, skin cancer is totally preventable.”

CVS stores and other retailers selling La Roche-Posay will feature a counter display stocked with information and Anthelios products.

“The ultimate objective of the SOS — Save Our Skin — campaign is to create change, and we know that change begins in your own backyard,” said Raynaud. To kick off Melanoma Month, La Roche-Posay hosted a three-day corporate launch event at L’Oréal USA headquarters featuring dermatologists Dr. Wendy Roberts, Dr. Brad Katchen and Dr. Diane Berson, who did free skin cancer screenings for employees.

Raynaud said that, despite the fact that 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation, there are misconceptions about the sun and the effects of UV rays. For example, 65 percent of Americans still believe there are safe types of UV rays, 50 percent are unconcerned about sun exposure and one out of four young Americans have used tanning beds in the past year. And the fact remains that one in five Americans will get skin cancer.

On the positive side, with early protection, 99 percent of skin cancer patients will survive and that is why La Roche-Posay thought education was key in SOS. The public awareness campaign uses all major media components including social networking to reach as many people as possible. Additionally, SOS is touted via in-store events, initiatives with dermatologists, pharmacists and a minisite called sossaveourskin.com. La Roche-Posay will make a donation every time someone joins the SOS cause as well as when anyone purchases an orange SOS ribbon in support of the cause. The proceeds will go to organizations such as the Women’s Dermatologic Society and the Skin Cancer Foundation. Retailers said they want to encourage more programs such as SOS because these initiatives represent valuable education, rather than just promotions of products. Such efforts also build loyalty to the professionals in the store, as well as to the chain.

In addition to the SOS campaign, La Roche-Posay is quadrupling its reach to dermatologists and continues to expand retail distribution, which includes about 7,000 CVS doors, 125 Duane Reade units and numerous independent drugstores. New products continue to be added to the lineup, most recently Physiological Cleansers, and Rosaliac UV for rosacea, Redermic+ (an antiaging product) and Effaclar K (an acne item). The Anthelios line also has been extended with 45 face and body products.

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