Meds or Meditation?


Herbs? Essential Oils? Reiki? Acupuncture? I'm a believer, which is why I'm always thrilled to learn about the growing acceptance of alternative medicine. The University Hospital's Connor Integrative Medical Network, Cleveland, Ohio, is the latest I've read about. What got my attention is that as an academic medical center, University Hospital is touting their alternative medicine as "evidence-based" therapy. In this world of value-based reimbursement, results matter. And they are getting them.

More and more patients, tired of the pain meds, side effects and continued pain, are opting for natural remedies. Thankfully, half of all medical schools are now offering courses in alternative medicine. And while it's still not at all mainstream, coverage is growing. New Hampshire naturopathic docs just celebrated a big win in June with legislation providing insurance coverage for their services. Most of us still have to cough up the dough ourselves, but find it very worthwhile.

That's because naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. NDs find the underlying cause, helping to create a healing internal and external environment. Recommendations often involve dietary modification including "clean eating" (maybe why 2011 gluten-free sales were $2.7 billion, estimated to grow to $3.4 billion by 2015, according to a Euromonitor International estimate), herbal supplements, nutrients, exercise, massage, etc. When combined with traditional medicine, you get the best of both worlds. The problem for the patient has been it's so hard to know how to blend it all, when to listen to your MD or your ND, when to stop the meds and start the meditation.

Aside from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, I haven't seen many hospitals or health systems leading the way in claiming an "alternative", "integrative", or "naturopathic" brand. But I predict as the evidence grows (and I'm confident it will), this brand position will grow. What do you think? 

Olympics inspire great advertising.


Who doesn’t love the Olympics? The amazing athletic feats, the moving medal ceremonies, the opening hoopla (which happens in London tonight)—I love all of it.

Since I’m in advertising, I also love to see—and study—the ways companies incorporate the Games into their marketing. While only a few corporations can be Olympic sponsors, we can all learn from their five-ring ads.

Here are some of my favorites thus far:

  • Kellogg’s—From Great Starts Come Great Things: This site features moving, beautifully-produced videos about U.S. athletes like archer Jake Kaminski and swimmer Rebecca Soni and Paralympian Casey Tibbs. We get sound bytes from their coaches and family members. We see them train. We learn about their amazing journeys to the games. And we watch them chow on Raisin Bran or Frosted Mini Wheats to get a “great start” on their training days. The transition from inspirational film to product placement is slick, seamless, and—to me, anyway—very relatable. I can’t face the day without my coffee and Special K, and everybody knows the truism about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. The site also has “Start Like a Champion” videos, in which swim star Summer Sanders chats with a dietitian about health and nutrition for everyone, not just for athletes. The campaign seems to be all about making the athletes feel like kids next door, people we can bond with and relate to as we all eat the same all-American corn flakes. It’s very well-done.
  • P&G, A Salute to Olympic Moms: I’ve yet to see this excellent spot on TV, but I’m already familiar with it. That’s because several Facebook friends—with no connection to P&G—have shared it. Now that’s a good commercial. I defy you to hold back the tears as you watch this gorgeous, two-minute film about mothers helping their children wake up in the wee hours, train their hearts out, then make it to the Olympics. There are a few shots of the hard-working moms washing dishes or folding laundry, but there is no product placement until the very end, when a few P&G product logos flash by, along with the tagline: “P&G, Proud Sponsor of Moms.” This is a wonderfully effective spot (a sequel to the mom-centric commercial created for the 2010 winter games) that subtly and savvily targets moms, both the ones who help create Olympic legends, and us ordinary ones who do the daily laundry and dishes. In this commercial, all moms are  heroes. And since women are responsible for 85 percent of all brand purchases, P&G is barking up the right tree.
  • Panasonic’s Flag Tags: Not all the Olympic advertising will make you cry. I love the enthusiasm and silliness of Panasonic’s Flag Tags. This app gives your Facebook profile pic virtual face paint that looks like your country’s flag. I love how this app rallies Olympic enthusiasm and national loyalty, while also subtly tying into Panasonic’s technology-focused brand. Brilliant.

Flag Tags

So what’s the unifying theme here? With great power (i.e. an Olympic sponsorship) comes a great platform. These advertisers know they don’t need to hammer viewers over the heads with their product placement. Subtlety, and celebrating the athletes more than themselves and creating that emotional connection is the key.
Over the next sixteen days, I’ll keep my eye out for more exciting Olympic-based marketing. What about you? Have you seen any Olympian ads that have knocked your sweat socks off?

Celeb Boutique’s Twitter mistake offends many during this sensitive time.


Today is a very tragic day in the aftermath of the late night shooting in Aurora, Colorado that left many victims in its wake. This type of senseless violence in such a public place like a movie theater is unfathomable and deeply concerning.

I first learned about the Aurora shooting on Twitter. Millions of people took to the social media site, including witnesses and victims, to send updates and condolences. It really is remarkable how influential social media can be during happy and sad times. We understand that Twitter, and social media in general, is a place for fast communication and where you can join conversations happening all over the world; which is why so many companies have a twitter presence and also why it’s so easy for companies to make detrimental mistakes.

Today the twitter handle @celebboutique, an online fashion company based outside of the U.S. tweeted the below to their 42k+ followers:

I was shocked and saddened when I saw this, as was the rest of the Twitter community. About 45 minutes later they tweeted this multiple, tweet apology:

Although Celeb Boutique apologized, is something like this easily forgotten or forgiven? A mistake like this, which could have been so easily avoided, may severely hurt their brand image and sales. This is why it is so important to have an effective Twitter strategy in place that outlines content being posted and necessary steps to take before posting, like checking facts and trending topics.

Celeb Boutique isn’t the first to make a Twitter blunder like this, for example the #notguilty hashtag mistake that Entenmann's made and the insensitive tweet from Kenneth Cole.

Do you think Twitter mistakes like this can permanently damage a brand? Or is there room for forgiveness in this social-sphere?

Social media expands the circle of friendship.


Friendship Circle of Michigan has always been one of my favorite non-profits. They do significant work for families of children with special needs—some are close friends of mine.

So of course, I took notice when Friendship Circle sent me an e-mail about their clever, 30-day contest called the Keys4Friendship Challenge. Then I got another e-mail about it from Yad Ezra, a Jewish food bank. Then two more e-mails came from daily deal sites, OyWhataDeal and HipCityDeals, and I realized that this is not just a contest—it’s a social media phenomenon.        
Here’s how Keys4Friendship, which launches this Sunday, works: six days a week, you check the contest’s Facebook app for the daily challenge. You’ll do one of three things:
  • Volunteer at a metro-Detroit organization, like Summer in the City, Focus Hope, or Forgotten Harvest or do a project like writing letters to soldiers. A finalist is randomly chosen from each volunteer day.
  • Drive around wielding a Friendship Circle car magnet. If you’re seen by a contest spotter, you could become that day’s finalist.
  • Write a story of friendship in response to a particular question. Again, a finalist will be randomly chosen from among the entries.
Friendship Circle Fan Page
At the end of the 30 days, the 30 finalists will gather at a big party. Each will be given a key. The one that opens the door to a Lincoln MKZ donated by Varsity Automotive Group
There are so many reasons I love this contest. First of all, it rallies volunteers for several Detroit non-profits over the course of the month. It also gives Friendship Circle a huge burst of publicity and, presumably, donations. 
I also love the way Keys4Friendship builds community. By making one of the challenges about telling inspirational stories, it launches an online community. Then the volunteer opportunities and final party create an actual community—and a service-oriented one at that. 
There’s also an opportunity for family bonding here. I know my sporty (okay, competitive) kids will love checking the daily challenge schedule and plotting ways to win. (Though, since the finalists and winner are all randomly selected, there’s no incentive for any prize-grabbing shenanigans.)    
There’s also a lesson here for social media marketers. A month-long daily contest is going to create a lot of hits. Involving so many local organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, creates yet more online buzz. It’s a brilliant use of Facebook, e-mail, and—with that army of car magnets—good old fashioned on-the-ground networking. 
Yes, somebody is going to walk away from the final Keys4Friendship event with some shmancy new wheels. But the real point of this competition is Detroiters banding together to do good. I think this is social-media-driven, community-building at its best.  
What about you? Will you join me in tuning in daily to the Keys4Friendship Challenge

Two viral videos that do way more than entertain.


Viral videos are an amazing phenomenon. Often, they’re purely about simple entertainment/procrastination. (How many times have my kids exclaimed, “Charlie, you bit my finger?” A lot.)

But videos with real messages have legs, too. You’ll find no better example, in my opinion, than the Pink Glove Dance.

Each time I watch this sweet and silly video of healthcare workers dancing around in their scrubs and surgical caps, it brings a smile to my face. The video stars staffers at Portland, Oregon’s Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Everybody featured is wearing pink vinyl gloves and dancing for breast cancer awareness.

Well, the video was such a hit that its sponsor, Medline (the manufacturer of those pink gloves), had to make another one.

“If one video and one hospital could bring this much attention to breast cancer awareness and prevention,” reads a caption on the website, “think about the impact of a video that featured 20 times the people and facilities participating in it.”

The result is this sequel video. The video features 4,000 dancers from 14 different medical facilities and this time, they include healthcare workers and breast cancer survivors.



The sequel is just as fabulous as the first video, if not more.  The song, “You Won’t Dance Alone” by the Best Day Ever, is perfect. The choreography is really impressive. (Well, impressive for a bunch of people who spent their twenties in med school.)

But it’s the vast number of participants that makes me cry every time I watch the sequel. There are dancers from hospitals in Newark, NJ  to La Jolla, CA to Plano, TX and they are all working it. Their joy is infectious and incredibly moving. These healthcare workers (and janitors and administrators and lab techs etc.) are all helping women with breast cancer. They fight the disease every day. As a breast cancer survivor, I can attest—these videos really do matter.

That’s clearly why Medline is keeping the magic going. Today, July 2nd, they’ll announce the details for another Pink Glove Dance competition. You know I’m going to campaign for my amazing treatment team to submit a video. I’d also love to be part of one of those survivor dances.

Whether or not we Detroiters make the cut, I’ll just be glad to see the Pink Glove Dances continue. Do a little procrastinating and check them out. I promise you won’t regret the eight minutes (ten if you stick around to make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation) you'll spend watching these advocates shake their booties for breast cancer.

Does Pinterest lead to product purchasing?


Recently I discussed three unique brand page examples on Pinterest and how brands are engaging their followers. Upon finding those unique examples, I wondered about the effectiveness of Pinterest brand pages and their potential to lead followers to purchase products. It’s true that brands are doing a great job on Pinterest to attract followers and brand advocates – check out Vera Bradley's Pinterest page for example.

The page incorporates a variety of boards that not only feature their products, but also feature categories that make up the style and culture of the brand. The Vera Bradley website also features social icons to encourage sharing products with your friends. But are these efforts leading to purchase? 

The answer is yes! There are numerous surveys and lots of data to support the notion that Pinterest users are likely to purchase products based on what they see on their channels. According to the Social Shopping Survey from SteelHouse, Pinterest users are more likely to purchase items they see on the channel than Facebook users who see items in their newsfeed or on a friend’s wall. In fact, Pinterest users are 79% more likely than Facebook users to purchase items they saw pinned versus items in a Facebook ad or newsfeed. The survey also noted that 59% of Pinterest users have made a purchase based on something they saw on Pinterest. Bizrate Insights found that 32% of online buyers have purchased something after seeing an image on an image sharing site (like Pinterest) in their Social Image Sharing and Online Shopping Series. 

Interestingly, 37% of online buyers said no they haven’t purchased, but only because they were unable to find the product or did not have time to purchase the product. This is good news for online retailers though. Since so many people are at least interested in items they see on image sharing sites, retailers can work to implement new tactics to make purchasing the products less time-consuming and more intuitive., a jewelry, bag and accessories designer, did some research with statistics from their site over a one-month period from both Facebook and Pinterest. In analyzing the data they learned five important things about the habits of Facebook and Pinterest users. They found out that not only does Pinterest drive more sales than Facebook, but Pinterest users are also higher spenders than Facebook users. They put together this cool infographic with all of the information they gathered. 


Facebook vs Pinterest infographic


So why are Pinterest users so likely to make purchases? And why are they more likely to make purchases than users on other social networks? Well, perhaps Daily Finance says it best: “Visual Story Telling Prompts Purchases.” Unlike on Facebook or Twitter where you only see a tiny preview, on Pinterest you can actually see the whole product and all of the product information. Then you *usually* can click through to the site where you can order right then and there. More and more retailers are entering the Pinterest space every day – and rightfully so! Pinterest makes it quick and easy for people to see products they love, click to the original source and purchase.

Have you purchased anything after finding it on Pinterest? What types of products have you purchased and what was your reason for purchase?

Empowering women through social media (and more): Are you with the league?


Have you heard yet about The League of Extraordinary Women? I can’t tell you how excited I am about it.

The League - a list compiled by Fast Company magazine - is made up of 60 high-profile women who are doing amazing things for women (and girls).

Some of the heavy hitters on the list:

  • Coca Cola’s Charlotte Oades, who directs the company’s 5 by 20 initiative, which aims to support five million women entrepreneurs worldwide by 2020.
  • Asenath Andrews, principal of Detroit’s Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant teens.
  • Holly Gordon, whose 10x10 film and social action project follows ten girls in ten different countries where fewer than 50 percent of girls complete primary school.
  • Melinda Gates, who is directing her foundation to raise $4 billion for birth control for 120 million women by 2020.

Of course, we’ve seen lists like these before. Magazines (the good ones anyway) love to celebrate people who do good in the world especially when so many of those people are glamorous (Tory Burch and Jennifer Buffett) and/or famous (Alicia Keys, Laila Ali, or America Ferrara) and/or powerful (Hillary Clinton, Maria Eitel, Pat Mitchell).

But Fast Company is doing more than just praising these movers and shakers. They’re trying to turn the notion of helping women into a movement, one that will literally save the world.

Their Twitter campaign, #imwiththeleague, is generating statements like this one by Scott Tanksley: “#ImWithTheLeague bc I want my kids’ world to be more than humanity at 50% of its heart, mind & soul capacity.”

And this one by Christine Osekoski:  “#imwiththeleague its time that strong women truly come together to support each others’ initiatives to empower all women. Let’s do it!”

Let’s do it. While the women on The League’s list have connections, money, and power, they still can’t do their jobs without the rest of us. We all have to get involved. Alicia Keys, who is in The League for co-founding Keep A Child Alive, which supports HIV-affected families in five struggling countries, wrote about this in the June 20th Huffington Post: “What people often assume is that in order to make change a reality, you have to have some kind of superhuman quality and power inside of you. You don’t have to be a politician, or a scholar or a singer or a celebrity to recognize a problem and work towards fixing it by empowering others around you to take up the fight.”

Another thing that’s hit home as I’ve read about the League of Extraordinary Women, is how many of its organizations focus on educating, protecting and helping young girls. One of the most inspiring of these is The Girl Effect, founded by the Nike Foundation’s Maria Eitel.

According to the site’s homepage, the Girl Effect is “the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” This amazing infographic further illustrates how a society’s health really does begin or end with its girls. In other words, to make this world a better place for all of us, we need to get girls and women to a better place; to a place where they are safe, educated, have control over their bodies, and have equality with men in the workplace, in the boardrooms, in governments, and at home.

I believe in this. I’m with the league. How about you?

Refer a friend to this innovative cause marketing.


I’ve always been a big fan of cause marketing, especially to reach women. Sure, we all love to get a sale price or cash back, but if the extra bang for our buck is a charitable donation, many of us are all over it. A study by Cone Marketing found that 88 percent of consumers find cause marketing acceptable, and 85 percent have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about. (Incidentally, those already super-high numbers go up to 95 percent and 92 percent when the consumers are mothers.)

Well, I recently discovered an example of cause marketing that gives both a discount and a charitable donation. It’s the Refer-a-Friend program offered by the suite of retail sites that includes,,,,, and (The sites are operated by the Amazon-owned Quidsi Solutions, LLC.)

Here’s how it works: If you go to, say,’s Refer-a-Friend program, you’ll get the opportunity (in the form of a referral code) to give a friend 20 percent off his or her first order.

When that friend uses Yoyo, the company donates up to $30 to Save Play/KaBOOM!  which builds playgrounds around the country. This, of course, ties neatly into the toy retailer’s brand. On the same note,’s chosen charity is the Best Friends Animal Society and’s is the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Share the promotion via Twitter, Facebook and other social media, and not only do you help a number of friends save some dough, but the charities get more money.

 Here’s why I think this promotion is both awesome and innovative:

  • It’s a win-win situation. If I refer a friend, I can do good by prompting a charitable donation and help my friend get a discount.
  • It’s good for the company. While all those donations and discounts will amount to a large outlay of money, it’s showing their customers they mean business. This will likely earn them some major customer loyalty.
  • It uses social media to publicize the promotion. This is savvy. It’s the rare person who’s going to gush on her Facebook timeline about But when gives her friend a discount and donates $30 to The FEED Foundation, she’s going to be more willing to shout about it on her social media. Again, this pumps up the brand and shows that Quidzi is serious about its charitable giving.
  • It adheres to the concept of a “signature charity.” The causes these websites support relate to the products they sell. With these donations, the sites are both doing good and supporting their own brands.

I particularly like this idea of a signature cause because, in fact, Brogan & Partners has had one for years: breast cancer awareness. As our CEO Maria Marcotte wrote in 2010, “This cause if very near and dear to us. On a professional level, we have a strong passion for healthcare marketing. And on a personal level, our Managing Partner, Ellyn Davidson, is a breast cancer survivor.”

I hope this is something we’ll see more and more of: companies incorporating philanthropy into their business models and marketing, and doing it in a way that serves their mission. If a company chooses a charity that’s relevant to its product or message, it allows for impactful storytelling. It creates an emotional connection. And that’s going to make for more profit and more charitable donations.

It doesn’t get more win-win than that.


Brands get up close and personal on Facebook.


In the past couple of months, a few brands have been reaching out to Facebook fans in an extra-ordinary way – with personalized videos. Febreze is the most recent example with their “Million Thanks.” According to Mashable, the brand is live-streaming their employees saying thank you 1 million times to celebrate reaching 1 million fans on Facebook. They are allotting 52 hours for this endeavor - that’s 320 thank yous per minute or five per second! To stay true the brand, Febreze is asking fans for smelly items to put in the background of the room.

Febreze wasn’t the first to engineer something extravagant to thank Facebook fans. AT&T launched “Thank You Notes” in which they created 500 personalized Youtube videos thanking random Facebook fans. This was to highlight their page hitting 2 million fans. 

Finally, in April, Kraft produced a six minute video name dropping fans who liked a certain post on their Facebook page. “Likeappella” thanked 4,600 fans throughout the video that starred an a capella group.



These elaborate social media stunts seem to be a hit with Facebook fans and are a fun way for the brand to show off their personalities. The Kraft post, for example, had the most likes than any other post on their page. Personal thank yous on Facebook might be the best way to reach fans in a medium that can feel detached at times.

What do you think? Will more brands catch on to this crazy trend or is it just another social media phase?

Innovative healthcare marketing example #13.


What do you want to do when you're 100? If you're like me, you don't think much about it. Too busy with today's priorities - like getting to work on time, packing lunches and making the next track meet. But Florida Hospital's Healthy 100 campaign, especially the beautiful Healthcare Advertising Award winning spot below, will stop you in your tracks and make you ponder.


A successful marketing program emotionally connects and can make you think about things you really don't want to think about. We've done it with healthcare issues like organ donation, drunk driving and AIDS prevention. This hospital has me convinced of their vision of a world where people live to be a healthy 100 years old. They offer a wealth of positive body, mind and spirit tools to motivate longevity. Like healthy recipes, inspirational videos with adorable centenarians, healthful events, newsletters, deals on healthy products and services, even a mobile app to track your daily water intake. But it doesn't stop there. The hospital has forged ahead with community extensions into Healthy 100 Kids, Healthy 100 Church and an executive program. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube successfully echo each component of the vision, rounding out a wonderfully convergent campaign.

If you're not convinced you need to think about what you want to do when you're 100, use the Life Expectancy Calculator to see if all of this is worth your time. This innovative campaign makes me want to live to be a healthy 100, how about you?

Pepsi brand marketing of the moment.


Advertising needs to be spontaneous and revolutionary to keep up with the ever changing, fast-paced, modern world. But recently, Pepsi has decided to not only embrace this concept, but take it to a new level with its ambitious ad campaign.



After sliding into the #3 soda slot behind Diet Coke, Pepsi decided it was time for a change. Brad Jakeman, president-global enjoyment and chief creative officer at PepsiCo, believes that the company’s weakness lies in its inability to secure a consistent identity. "Our least-impactful marketing,” he says, “has been when we've tried to reinvent this brand. This brand does not need to be reinvented. It needs to be reignited."

And reignite it they will. Pepsi recently launched the new campaign, “Live for Now,” which supports the idea of Pepsi as timely, as opposed to Coke which is known as timeless.

Living in the moment works well for social media campaigns, so it makes sense that Pepsi is leaning heavily on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Pepsi Pulse, the brand’s new website, is a “social flow” site that relies on current news, celebrity tweets and related Pepsi hashtags to populate the webpage. The brand has also featured impromptu giveaways on its Facebook page, and its new “pop up concerts,” sponsored through Twitter, will allow users to stream concerts from major artists.  Talk about living in the now.

With popstar Nikki Manaj as spokeswoman and her hit song Moment 4 Life as the new anthem, I think Pepsi is a brand to watch. This campaign speaks volumes to its target audience, young free spirits. But will it last? After all, living in the now all the time won’t be easy. What do you think? Will Pepsi score with spontaneity or will it continue to fall behind?

Making shade.


Listening to a friend’s house-decorating stories often means enduring a litany of woes: the rug that was too scratchy, the paint color that was too bright, the upholstery that cost a fortune, and on and on.

But my cousin, Elizabeth—who’s sprucing up her new house in Atlanta—called the other day with a happy decorating tale.

It’s also an example of some great marketing to women.

Elizabeth had an enormous window in her stairwell that needed covering. She found the perfect solution at The Shade Store—a pretty roller shade made of grasscloth. Being a green type, she liked that the shade was made from organic materials and had a natural look to it. 

The Shade Store

I wasn’t familiar with this company but from what Elizabeth told me, it sounded great. The website tells you how to measure your window, customize your window treatment, and install it by yourself. Skilled customer service people will walk you through the process if you need extra help. For a busy working mom like my cousin—or myself, for that matter—being able to order and install a quality window treatment without having to hire (and meet with and pay) a decorator is a great time-saver.

Elizabeth and her husband loved the shade, her neighbors were grateful for the privacy, and that was that—or so they thought.

A couple weeks later, Elizabeth received a “Give a Tree” card from The Shade Store. As a thank you for her business, the company (through the Arbor Day Foundation) had planted a tree in one of our fire-depleted national forests.

What a great business move.

Since The Shade Store uses a lot of natural materials (organic ones, to boot), planting trees is a great way to promote its own brand.

It’s also going to help sales. The Shade Store’s products are naturally going to attract plenty of green customers. (Incidentally, a majority of those will probably be women. According to She-conomy, women make 85 percent of all consumer purchases and more than 50 percent of women say they want more green choices.) These customers are going to love the fact that The Shade Store gives back in the form of tree planting and they’re likely to give the company repeat business because of it.

It worked on my cousin. She’s now considering using the company for window treatments in her front room. I’m sure I’ll hear all about that decorating venture, too. But given the Shade Store’s inspiring business model, I don’t think I’ll mind.