Commentary

Give Your Healthy Living Marketing Message A Sporting Chance

I'm a fairly big sports fan. I used to be a sportswriter in another life, and today I still watch a lot of sports on TV. So much so that it crowds out other viewing choices. So when I write this, understand that I'm hitting my forehead at the same time, and thinking, "Duh, why didn't I think about this earlier?" Of course, I only hit my forehead once since it makes typing difficult.

In a local Boston publication, the South End News, I saw a front page story about new bike-sharing stations appearing around town, along with a big pull quote declaring that such stations are "good for the neighborhood," from the perspective of bringing business to the area.

While that's true, it also occurred to me that making bicycles available to locals is just as good for locals themselves, to encourage a more active lifestyle. But I had another thought when I noticed the New Balance sponsorship on one of the stations: "Why don't health organizations, which would benefit from the marketing position of encouraging healthy, active lifestyles, dive into such sponsorships?"

Then I started thinking about other opportunities, like tennis. I watch a lot of tennis; I even had a Wimbledon brunch party this year. And while there are a ton of financial services, jewelers, and apparel company signs at tournaments, I don't remember seeing any health providers or health insurance companies taking advantage of reaching this audience. Such a space could be an ideal springboard for providers to tout their information and online tools to help current and potential patients better manage their healthcare and learn how to make healthier choices.

And with the advent of tools like Twitter, URL shorteners and QR codes (we love that stuff at Genuine), it doesn't take a lot of explaining or signage real estate to create such a call-to-action for people to experience informative, engaging personalized tools that they would enjoy using and sharing with others.

The NFL has fully embraced this idea of being aligned with promoting an active lifestyle. The Play 60 campaign, helped immensely by TV spots with a very addictive track by Go! Team, has a very simple premise: Coaches, ownership and players riding with kids on a school bus urging them to go play outside.

Proctor & Gamble recognized the opportunity to connect with mom bloggers who look favorably on such an effort, and hired former news anchor and St. Louis-based blogger Danielle Smith to cover some of the Play 60 campaign's "community blitz" events .

There are obviously many ways different brands can creatively align with worthwhile campaigns that encourage healthier living, and they have been doing so for a long time. However, with the explosion of self-publishing and media distribution opportunities, health marketers need to be constantly aware of where and how to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

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