Today is World Autism Awareness Day. That means for the next twenty-four hours, buildings and monuments around the world will be bathed in blue light. Among the places “lighting it up blue” are the Empire State Building, the Paris Stock Exchange, The Sydney Opera House . . . and the historic Peabody Mansion in Birmingham, Michigan, which is the home of Brogan & Partners.
I’m so proud that our firm will be a part of this amazing day, when so many people will be focusing on autism. Maybe the blue lights will inspire more people to volunteer on behalf of those with autism. Or to donate money for autism research. Maybe those who live with autism on a daily basis will choose this day to reach out and educate others about the disorder.
Photo by Mike Lord
There are so many ways to learn and help. The blue lights are there to remind us that autism is all around us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism’s prevalence has now risen to one in 88 children. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a personal connection to this disorder.
That's why we are supporting Michigan's Lt. Governor, Brian Calley, in his effort to implement autism insurance reform in Michigan--to make sure that the 15,000 people living with autism in Michigan get the treatment they need to live a bright and productive future.
That’s why I (as well as Brogan & Partners) am a longtime supporter of Friendship Circle of Michigan, which provides services to kids with special needs, including those with autism.
It’s why I contribute to Camp Kids All Together, which helps autistic kids go to an inclusive day camp along with children of all abilities.
And it’s why my husband, Jon, has just joined the board of The Bear Hug Foundation, which helps kids with special needs go to overnight camp.
As many of you know, we bathe the Peabody Mansion in a pink glow every October to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the first time we’ve shined our light on a new issue. I hope it gets people talking. I hope it prompts a flood of donations.
And I hope it means that some day, that one in 88 statistic will be a distant memory.
Like everyone else's kids, my twelve-year-old daughter is crazy about The Hunger Games. She devoured the book trilogy and she's been making plans for the big opening day for weeks.
I myself have been kind of indifferent to the Hunger craze. I was only grateful that there weren’t any vampires involved. But then I spotted a Hunger Games promotion that made me a fan, too.
As the poster says, the world really will be watching when this much anticipated movie hits screens. So instead of just doing the usual glamorous premieres, magazine covers, and other ways to drum up ticket sales, the film is using its fame (and its theme) to do some good in the world. Through the Facebook page, people can make a donation for food distribution by the World Food Programme,internationally or WFP and Feeding America in this country.
To further entice fans to learn more about the very solvable hunger problem, the site features a quiz that includes facts like:
- “1 in 7, or close to one billion people, go to bed hungry every night.”
- “Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”
- “There is enough food today for everyone to have the nourishment needed for a healthy and productive life. The problem is access.”
Finish the quiz—and learn an important thing or two—and you’re entered to win a signed Hunger Games poster.
To me, this is cause marketing at its best. The film not only gets its publicity, it also harnesses all that fan love to do, good work. It’s a win-win. And it’s made me—a formerly indifferent Hunger Games bystander—volunteer to chaperone seven girls to the movie on Friday night.
Never underestimate the power of a good idea. It will stick in your head for years. It will push itself to the forefront among other ideas. And when the right people see it and believe in its potential, they will jump on your bandwagon. I came up with the idea for “Secondhand Smoke, Secondhand Rose”, 17 years ago working on the Michigan Department of Community Health account at Brogan.
At the time, we were doing some TV spots, so radio wasn’t in the budget and YouTube did not exist. But the tune, “Secondhand Rose,” (which is in public domain) and my rewrite of the words had a sticking factor. And the tune stuck in my head for years. So recently when I heard MDCH needed a radio spot about secondhand smoke for parents of young children, I remembered that idea from long ago. Of course, the original script was gone, considering it was written on one of the first Macs! But I recreated it. And I couldn’t have scripted what happened next better. Our wonderful clients at MDCH, Kelly Niebel and Jason Holben, let us produce it as both a radio spot and a YouTube video (the latter has over 4,000 hits just after a couple weeks). Serendipitously, we found the perfect talent shooting another spot for STEM awareness. We called in favors to make it amazing and stay in budget. But the icing on the cake: powerful results. The calls to the Michigan Tobacco Quit Line were so dramatic, one of our clients exclaimed she “almost fell out of my chair.” So that great idea you have, it can happen. It just may need a little longer incubation period. What do you think of our “Secondhand Smoke, Secondhand Rose” spot for the Michigan Department of Community Health? I'm glad it stuck in my head all those years!
Not so long ago, if you wore a girdle, you didn’t want anybody to know it. Now girlfriends (including the Grand Girlfriend of them all, Oprah) love to dish about smoothing their muffin tops or rounding out their booties with sexy, slimming shapewear.
And it’s all because of Spanx.
Founded 12 years ago, Spanx sells (and sells and sells) not just because it works wonders on women’s bods, but also because it does it with winning sass, from the naughty name to the cute cartoons on the packaging.
And that’s all because of Spanx founder, Sara Blakely. Her force of nature personality, relentless work ethic, and most of all, true understanding of women, have made her a newly minted billionaire at age 41. She’s the youngest self-made woman on Forbes magazine’s “Rich List.”
I love Blakely’s back story. She started Spanx with $5000 of her own money. She had an idea to improve upon control top pantyhose and had to practically storm a hosiery mill to get them to make her prototype. She wrote her own patent to save legal fees. She hand-sold Spanx at a folding table at Neiman Marcus using picture of her own disappearing panty lines and stayed up all night filling her own mail orders.
Now that her company—which is debt-free and privately owned—has hit it huge, Blakely’s personality still charmingly infuses everything Spanx does, especially its savvy marketing. The company’s staff is dominated by women who put themselves out there as much as Blakely does. On the Spanx blog, “The Rear View”, for instance, staffers pose for before and after photos in Spanx nipping and tucking swimsuits.
And in a section called “Spanx-Giving,” we hear about charitable work staffers have done for organizations like the Foster Care Support Foundation’s Prom-A-Palooza.
Blakely also gives back with motivational speaking, largely aimed at women, and impulsive gifts of joy, like treating everyone in her favorite restaurant to dinner.
A cute cartoon of Blakely herself, wearing a long blond ponytail, is perched at the top of the every page on the Spanx website. It’s clear that, while her ragtag underwear company has changed immensely, Blakely has remained true to her very feminine self. And that’s the best recipe for success I can think of.
Did you catch the Ozzy Osbourne "Colonoscopy Sweepstakes" spot on the Grammy's Sunday night? Grand prize winner gets flown to New York for 3 nights in a luxury hotel overlooking Central Park, cash, and the main event - a free ride to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for a free colonoscopy! The hokey approach kind of threw me for a loop and I thought maybe it was a hoax. But it sparked my interest enough to check it out on the CBS Cares website.
Sure enough, it's for real. CBS Cares has been doing PSAs for a host of health care causes for many years. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne's participation is inspired by Sharon's successful battle against colon cancer.
Personally, I'd rather experience the discomforts of this procedure close to home, but for the uninsured and/or adventurous, perhaps this is just what the doctor ordered! There's something for everyone and if it gets people to get their colonoscopy or garners interest in the topic, it's a winner in my book.
Take a look and tell me what you think of this innovative healthcare marketing example.
This year, my daughter turned eleven. For me, that means adding a new line item to our household budget. I’m calling it Teenage Fashion Trends that Will Last Approximately Six Minutes.
And on a more serious note, I’ve also put in a call to our pediatrician to ask about Gardasil, the Merck-manufactured Human Papillomavirus vaccine.
Given that HPV is sexually-transmitted, it’s something I wouldn’t have considered for years. There are two reasons I’m making it happen now.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that girls get three doses of the vaccine at age 11 or 12.
- Gardasil’s powerful marketing message had me hooked years ago.
Do you remember Gardasil’s 2006 “One Less” ad campaign?
The commercial was populated by strong, cool, real-looking young girls skateboarding, playing drums, and jumping rope. They looked straight into the camera and declared, “Each year in the U.S. thousands of women learn they have cervical cancer. I could be one less.”
The spot was strikingly natural and refreshingly forthright. It handled the politically dicey issue of vaccinating young girls for an STD with dignity and power. These girls weren’t being manhandled by their parents, the government, or their future partners. They were taking a strong stance and protecting themselves.
Subsequent ads featured mothers choosing Gardasil for their daughters and confident twentysomething women choosing the vaccine for themselves. These spots were just as moving to me. They treated their female target audience as smart, discerning, responsible consumers.
Now there’s an opportunity for a new round of Gardasil commercials. The CDC has issued a recommendation that 11- and 12-year-old boys also be vaccinated against HPV.This is great news.
As Merck gets the new message out, I hope it doesn’t abandon the powerful, feminist tone of Gardasil’s earlier spots. After all, vaccinating boys against HPV protects both themselves and their future partners.
And even if the ads are about boys, we know that women—these boys’ mothers—are responsible for more than 80 percent of healthcare spending.
So this is my advice to Merck: When you bring men into the fold, remember those great old Gardasil commercials and don’t leave women out of the marketing.
I’m a long time fan of the TV show, The Biggest Loser. For the past five years, I’ve spent many Tuesday nights glued to NBC watching the triumphs and the struggles of a group of dedicated and brave men and women competing to lose weight and regain control of their lives. It’s a perfect mix of inspiration combined with a bit of drama to end my day. During season 7, a fellow Michigander, Helen Phillips took home the grand prize.
Last summer, I had a terrific opportunity to have lunch with Helen Phillips and get to know her off of the TV screen. Over salads (dressing on the side), we talked about our personal goals. Helen is focused on helping people live a healthier life, and I’m forever dedicated to putting an end to breast cancer. We knew we could work together to create a really great event.
On October 20, 2011, Helen Phillips and I invite you to celebrate healthy living and survivorship at our first Partners in Pink Party. Come see the historic Peabody Mansion in pink lights honoring breast cancer survivors and remembering those who have lost their battle. It’s the second year our beautiful building will shine bright pink in downtown Birmingham. We have wonderful sponsors donating food, drinks and entertainment. The majority of your ticket price will go to benefit two organizations that mean so much to us--The Helen Phillip’s Foundation and FORCE. The Helen Phillips Foundation promotes healthy living to combat obesity, and FORCE is a national non-profit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. We hope to see you at this one-of-a-kind event.
Social media is changing the world and it’s proving itself time and again that its powers can be used for more good than evil. Exhibit A: the Bread Art Project. It’s a really simple concept with hugely impactful results. With the help of Facebook, Twitter and the like, this project has gone from an unknown to a social media sensation.
The Grain Foods Foundation along with Food Network favorite Ted Allen (host of Chopped) are joining forces with Feeding America to provide a whopping one million pounds of food for those who need it the most. And the numbers are staggering. Hunger impacts 48 million Americans, 17 million of which are children. Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to feed ourselves or our families.
And now, social media is being used to help feed the hungry, simply by making pieces of digital bread art. Never fancied yourself an artist? All you have to do is upload a picture of yourself, friends, pets, or any image that is important to you. If you’re a regular Picasso, you can even create your own design and the application will generate a personalized piece of bread art just for you. For every slice of bread art, the Grain Food Foundation will donate a $1 to Feeding America. They have already raised over $21,000 for the project and it continues to grow. Bet you never thought a digital piece of bread could be so much fun or could give back to such a great cause. What are some of your favorite causes social media has impacted?
I even tried out my art skills with a picture of me and some of my girls from Brogan & Partners. If I ever wondered what my face would look like toasted to a piece of bread…I just got my answer.
At Brogan & Partners, we pride ourselves on being one of the best healthcare agencies in the country. We have a passion for it. And our client loyalty and creative portfolio demonstrates it. But it’s nice to have the recognition of your peers in the highly competitive, realm of national advertising award shows. So we are thrilled that we have won two awards at The 28th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards, sponsored by Healthcare Marketing Report.
Our teen driving public service poster (see below) for the Michigan Department of Community Health received a Silver Award. And we won a Merit Award for our TV commercial “Close Up” created for Covenant HealthCare (see below). The MDCH teen driving poster also received a Silver Award at the Aster Awards as well.
Every year we are proud to bring home the hardware from award shows, but we realize that agencies like ours create award winning work every day. The difference is having great clients. Clients who recognize great ideas. Who push it through their own internal bureaucracies. Who add their own passion and creativity to the process. So thanks to our clients who made these healthcare awards possible: Geralyn, Jason, Amy, Kelly, Larry and Barb. You are the prize. Great clients like you (and we are lucky to have many) are what every agency creative director like me covets. Thanks for making us all winners!
For generations there has been an endless debate of who rules the world, men or women. During the sixties, James Brown stated his opinion with “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”. In Beyonce’s new song “Run the World” she sings, “Who run the world? Girls, girls”. The debate will continue. But in the world of social media, we have a definitive gender winner. It’s women who rule. Sure, men created most of our social platforms but it is women who are maintaining and growing them.
According to Read Write Web, a study done by an online company rapleaf.com revealed that on most social network platforms “women outnumber men by a considerable amount. On Facebook, the 18-24 age group is the largest, with 1,685,029 women in that age group compared to 977,753 men.”
Why are women the largest contributors to social media? According to Jessica Faye Carter, an award-winning author and owner of Nette Media, it is simply because as mothers, we like to share information, educate others as well as develop new trends.
As expert multi-taskers, women like how easily they can share information with family and hundreds of “friends” simply with a click of a button. And as the leading household purchasing decision-maker, they use social media to share information about products, services, time-saving tips and money-saving offers.
Men want to rule the world. Women want to save the world. So it’s no wonder so many women are using social media to make social change. Whether raising awareness for lead paint or money for the breast cancer 3-day, women are using these social tools to build a better world for all of us.
Who do you think will rule the social media world in the future?