Fighting Apathy, American Heart Association Rebrands

When it comes to selling the U.S. on healthier hearts, the American Heart Association has long relied on rational tactics. Heart disease continues to be the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S., and the nonprofit has focused on teaching people about the improved health that comes from eating well, exercising, learning CPR and preventative checkups. But with its $4 million rebranding effort, the nonprofit is finally leading with its, you know, heart.

The group created the new positioning, called “Life is Why,” because “it’s a very scientifically based organization, and for the last 80 years, has always been working with the head, teaching about heart disease,” says Kevyn Faulkenberry, executive creative director of the Dalton Agency, which led the rebranding. “And it stayed away from the emotional side of things. We started by asking why the American Heart Association exists, and it’s because this group believes everyone deserves a longer, healthier life. So we looked at all those little emotional moments in life — the things we are all perhaps guilty of taking for granted sometimes — and distilled them.”

Using the “Life is Why” theme, he says, the effort builds on the countless emotional connections that enrich people’s lives. In addition to a TV spot and plenty of digital components, he says the effort will be powered by the way people define that positioning for themselves through social media. “Some people will say, “My child is why,” “My wife is why,” or “My mother is why.” We’re going to allow them to plug into all resources, and our goal is to help them connect emotionally.”

The organization, which trains 14 million people a year to administer CPR and has funded 13 Nobel scientists, seeks to educate people about all aspects of heart disease and stroke, including information about obesity, diet and exercise. But while heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., the organization faces plenty of stiff competition for both awareness and funding. “They’re all deserving and do good work,” he says, “but in a way, we’re also competing with people’s apathy. And that’s why we feel the emotional connection — reminding people why they care about being healthy and living longer — is so important.”

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