Alert.  This is not the face of lyme disease.  Or is it?

Lyme disease, long associated with ticks and camping, jumped in the media ratings as the Canadian pop singer Avril Lavigne announced that she has been struggling with the disease.

Prior to Ms. Lavigne’s announcement, Lyme disease was in the media rating obscure range, moving in and out of the 60 point range.  I wouldn’t call Ms. Lavigne’s condition an endorsement, but its definitely a celebrity association that raises the visibility of a disease that would otherwise rarely receive this kind of media attention, and ratings.  Lyme disease is up +9 points or +12 percent at 74, significantly above its trailing 12-month average of 65.

An association with a well-known celebrity boosted a moderate medical condition rating to a significantly stronger position.  For the pharma industry, this type of media rating response is a good data point to keep in mind.  In general, a known celebrity, entertainer or athlete brand association typically translates into a +10 point increase in media rating performance.  The stronger the media rating of the entertainer, the greater the associated response.  There are a lot of variables at play here, like celebrity response and media interaction, the existing visibility of the disease or condition and the long-term effects of the disease on the celebrity’s career.  In the case of Avril Lavigne, the disease was quite serious and potentially career-ending.  But fortunately Ms. Lavigne was treated early and could go on to share her experience and increase the visibility of an otherwise obscure disease.