Healthy Is As Healthy Does

It is possible to draw parallels between the green movement and what is happening in health today. Both are human problems that have grown to be global crises through our actions and inactions. Both have their advocates and their nay-sayers. Both ask all of us to take personal responsibility for doing everything we can to fix the problem. And, perhaps most importantly in this context, both have a huge impact on brands and how they are expected to behave. Today, people want the brands that they buy or associate with to demonstrate that they share the same standards and beliefs. And it is much more than a product story.

Subaru, a car brand cherished by outdoor types, created the first auto assembly plant in the U.S. to achieve zero-landfill status. Rather than invent another greener car, it showed that its corporation stands for, and is prepared to invest in, protecting the environment. This is a great demonstration of what Jon Iwata, senior vice president, Marketing and Communications at IBM, calls “corporate character.” And understanding that how you act as a company creates brand relevance, which is much more valuable than simply buying awareness.



Proof of Character

People are looking for similar character from health brands. Some car manufacturers talk about passive and active safety. Passive safety covers the features that protect you if you get in an accident, while active safety is everything designed to stop you getting into an accident. Health brands could adopt this thinking to create experiences that encompass passive and active health -- helping people when they are sick and helping them stay well.

A successful example of doing both is the “Get on Track” program. Novartis created it as part of the organization’s commitment to helping people with hypertension -- regardless of which drug they are taking. When you have high blood pressure, your doctor tells you to change your diet, start exercising and take your medicine. And guess what? You get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. Get on Track used the thinking behind economic nudge theory to change this. The program creates lots of tiny healthy nudges that add up to a real difference -- not just for the patient, but also for Novartis’ character.

Being active means thinking different. In an effort to find the thousands of new bone marrow donors needed every year, every packet of “Help, I’ve Cut Myself” adhesive bandages now contains a swab and an envelope. Send a drop of blood to the bone marrow donor center, and it’ll tell you if you’re a match. A brand that is relevant when you have cut yourself is now a lifesaver.

Another brand embracing active health is EmblemHealth. The new “This is What Care Feels Like” campaign has created a healthy network for New York: Connecting green markets and restaurants in live street demos, sponsoring fruit carts, partnering with master chefs to create cooking competitions for teens, and airing television commercials that give out health advice and tips. Yes, helping people to stay healthy benefits a health insurance company. But it also benefits us and makes that brand relevant to everyone who cares about his or her health.

Renewable Marketing Energy

When we create work that is as relevant as this, we are creating more than an advertising campaign. We are creating brand experiences that people can believe in, get involved with and share. Get it right and, just like renewable energy, we are harnessing a momentum that will power brands forward further and faster than ever before.

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