Social Marketing

Today we launched a social media movement to shed pounds.


The battle of the bulge has a new weapon. Social media. Today our agency has launched a new integrated campaign for the Michigan Department of Community Health which includes an online pledge, mobile messages, emails, a facebook community, tv, radio, interactive and grassroots support. It’s called MI Healthier Tomorrow.

The campaign is focused on getting those of us with a muffin top to take a pledge to lose 10% of our body weight, share it with friends and engage in ongoing support. Losing just 10% of body weight can reduce the risk of chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. In focus groups we learned that putting that message front and center was the most powerful way to inspire people to make long term change. I am really proud of our creative, account and media team and our wonderful clients at MDCH for the amazing collaboration on this effort. It has been a privilege for me to work on this campaign, as I have been fighting my own battle of the bagels for years. I have lost almost 60 pounds making small lifestyle changes over the last two years. And I am taking the MI Healthier Tomorrow pledge as a commitment to continue to reach my goal. Will you join me and take the pledge to lose 10%? Bathing suit season is around the corner…

MI Healthier Tomorrow Facebook page

Panera really does care.


Have you heard about Panera Cares community cafes? These are wonderful non-profit versions of Panera sandwich shops.  They were created to raise awareness of—and actually relieve—food insecurity.  

Everything in a Panera Cares café is just the same as in a “regular” Panera except for the menu, which has suggested donations instead of hard-and-fast prices. The idea is that you donate what you can afford for your meal. Those who can pay the suggested donations (or more) support the café and allow it to feed the hungry for free—or for an hour of volunteer work.

Other than its moving website, Panera Cares’ social media presence has been scanty. I’ve been troubled by this because I’d love this great non-profit to get more buzz. I also think Panera deserves plenty of credit for creating such an innovative way to fight hunger.

As it turns out, Panera did get a blast of online love recently. But the story was about a caring Panera location, rather than a Panera Cares cafe.

It happened like this: New Hampshire resident Brandon Cook posted a story   about his dying grandmother’s craving for Panera clam chowder, which is made only on Fridays. It wasn’t a Friday when Cook called his local Panera with the request, but the manager made his grandmother a special batch of her favorite soup anyway. She sent over a box of cookies as well. It was a small gesture of kindness more typical of a small business than a huge, corporate chain.

And what do you know, Brandon Cook’s post has generated more than 815,000 “likes” on Facebook and a heap of press recognition.

I love this story. As a social media expert, I also see a few lessons we can all take from it. . .

Even if you don’t always watch social media, it’s always watching  you
I’m sure the manager of that Nashua, NH Panera wasn’t thinking about getting praise on Facebook when she made that extra pot of clam chowder. But the fact is, deeds good and bad can go public at any time. Hopefully that provides added incentive for individuals and companies to be good citizens. It should also remind businesses to keep social media strategies always at the ready so they can manage both good and bad PR.

Going viral is like winning the lottery
A lot of stars have to align for super-buzz to happen. While Panera got lucky this time, hoping to go viral is not a good social media strategy. Instead, you have to use social media (preferably entertaining and innovative social media) to put out your message.

If you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else is going to do it for you. My mother always used to tell me this. As the Panera/Facebook story shows, that’s less true these days, but horn-tooting should still be a crucial part of every business’s strategy. These days, social media is the smartest and most economical way to do it. I for one, hope that Panera Cares increases its online presence so it can get more credit for its philanthropy, and so more people will learn about and visit the Panera Cares cafes. There’s one in Dearborn, Michigan and I will definitely make a point of eating there the next time I’m in the area.

Do you know of any other non-profits that could step up their social media game?

Social media and the Olympics: what we can learn from our biggest winners' losses.


Well, the Olympics have come to an end (sigh). The closing ceremonies are over and have successfully spiced up my life. But  the completion of the games have left a void in my nightly television routine I have gotten quite accustomed to over the past two weeks. I’ve now had some time to reflect on the proud moments, the incredible athletes, and, of course, the tear jerking Olympic commercials that oftentimes deserve gold metals.

What struck me the most was the huge role social media played in this year’s games. The New York Times even referred to it as the “Socialympics”.  There have been some highlights (following the athletes as on their road to Olympic stardom was inspiring), but there have also been some social media mishaps.

Here are some of the lessons we have learned that can be applied to your business or brand’s social media so that you don’t accidentally commit “social suicide”:

Greek Olympic triple jumper, Voula Papachristou, was ousted from the games and was ineligible to compete after tweeting racially hurtful comments about fellow African athletes. Not only did she get the boot, but she put a rather large dent in her personal brand.

Dick Raman, CEO of BrandReact, says, “the lesson here is think before you tweet. Because social media is instant, people sometimes don’t realize that things written in the heat of the moment have a lasting effect even in the Twitterverse.” Remember: social media is instant and permanent. This also validates that age old adage: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Hope Solo and Brandi Chastain
Photographs by Stanley Chou/Getty Images; Michael Buckner/Getty Images.

Here’s another example: Olympic Soccer player Hope Solo and Brandi Chastain got in a twitter cat fight over Brandi’s guest commentating during a match. Their back and forth was more painful to watch than the final seconds of swimming.

The lesson here may be obvious, but it’s vital: don’t talk smack about your competition. You’re better off letting your brand, products or services speak for themselves than bashing your competitors. Keep it classy.

I’m already looking forward to the next round of Olympic Games and all of the glory and controversy it is sure to bring. Until then, I’ll be keeping an eye on my social media and carefully monitoring my twitter posts.

Innovative healthcare marketing example #12.


Memorial Hermann will be doing more than putting pins in patients today. They will be pinning a live brain tumor resection. Brain surgery on Pinterest? Yep. I'm not sure if it's the right social platform - it's not where I'd go to get up to speed on leading brain surgery centers - but it's certainly innovative. As is the hospital's social media machine.

This Texas hospital performed the world's first live-tweeted open heart surgery a few weeks back. When this reaped 125 million views via Twitter, Storify and media coverage, they decided to go for it again. Adding in Pinterest.

Today's brain surgery will be performed by Dr. Dong Kim, the surgeon who operated on former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. While surgeries have been tweeted in the past, this will be the first to share the feed from the surgeon's fiber optic microscope. Real time pics and videos will be posted on Twitter, YouTube and Storify.

According to Nielson @Plan, homemakers index 204 on Pinterest, meaning they are 104 times more likely to be on this site. So Pinterest definitely reaches the female healthcare decisionmaker. But will she want to look at photos of brain surgery while hunting for recipes and fashion tips?

(Image from

Time will tell. I think one thing's for sure. Memorial Hermann is living up to its themeline of "100 Years of Patient-Centered Care and Innovation." Not only with its team of expert docs, but its team of social media experts.

What do you think of surgeries on Pinterest? Is it over the top? Or is this hospital ahead of the curve?

Today, we light it up blue.


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.

Blue Peabody Mansion for Autism

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.

A secondhand smoke YouTube singing sensation.


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!

Celebrating Michigan Stem Awareness Week.


Did you know that March 25th is the kickoff date for Michigan STEM Awareness Week? You’re probably wondering what is STEM and what does it have to do with me? Well, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It turns out that STEM occupations are the highest paying, fastest growing, most influential jobs of the future to drive economic growth and innovation. Which we all know is important for the State of Michigan. Michigan STEM Awareness Week is being sponsored by the STEM Alliance of Michigan (SAM).

I had the pleasure of working with these forward thinking folks on a TV spot to promote STEM education awareness. Working with the kids featured in the spot was too much fun, they were spontaneous, charming and hilarious. It’s times like this that I love my job. A job I couldn’t do without my MAC and technology. So learn more about the good stuff going on during Michigan STEM Awareness Week, March 25-31. How will you build STEM awareness? Start by sharing the spot with your family, friends and social networks. I did.



Another Breast Cancer PSA you don't want to miss.


As a breast cancer survivor, nothing makes me happier than media that really gets women to check their breasts. After all, it was Brogan & Partners’ spot for St. John Health that inspired me to be more diligent about checking my own breasts. Soon after we created that commercial more than four years ago, I discovered a lump and caught my cancer early.

This PSA from Rethink Breast Cancer makes me doubly happy. Not only is it a great two-and-a-half minute tutorial on checking your breasts, it’s also hilarious! Not to mention easy on the eyes. The PSA stars Anthony, a spokesmodel with sparkly eyes and bare, washboard abs. He demonstrates how to examine your breasts with TLC: Touch, Look, Check.

So if this message is aimed at women, why do we see a man palpating his pecs in the shower (complete with pink shower cap)?

Because, explains Anthony’s co-star, a gray-haired doctor, “Studies have shown that women are more likely to watch a video if it features a hot guy.”

Clearly, that’s true. The PSA has gotten more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.

Rethink Breast Cancer has also produced a great, free app called the Your Man Reminder. Users customize their regularly-scheduled reminders to feature the hottie of their choice. They can even  alter his pose. He’ll send sexy/cute messages to remind them to do their breast-checks.

I think this is great. It calls to mind another irreverent (and effective) breast-check prompt, Check Your Boobies.

But I don’t just like Rethink’s PSA because it gives me a laugh. I think its humor makes it more effective. Good advertising makes an emotional connection. Some move you tears, like our St. John Health TV Spot for breast cancer. Others make you laugh like our Michigan Department of Community Health TV Spot to remind women to get regular pap tests.

And when you’re talking about a breast check reminder, memorable is as good as it gets.

What do you think of the Your Man Reminder? Can you think of other breast cancer prevention spots that have lodged in your memory?


Why women are leading the social media bandwagon.


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 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?

Research-based H1N1 ad.


By now, we've all seen a lot of H1N1 ads. But are they working? Our client, Michigan Department of Community Health, decided to go straight to the target audience - minority populations of African Americans, Arab Americans and Hispanics who have NOT received the vaccine - with focus groups to understand WHY NOT.  The problem? They simply don't trust it.  Respondents said it was "rushed into circulation", "pushed by the government", and is "unsafe", "untested and experimental," and "unproven." Of course, all misperceptions and untruths, as the vaccine is the safest, most effective way to prevent the flu. We know that trust is a critical component of the healthcare marketing equation -- and that we had to overcome this basic feeling of mistrust. Since the majority of respondents said their doctor would be the single person they would trust the most about whether or not to get the H1N1 vaccine, we encouraged action through this open door. Even though we know 61% if adults search online for health information and 81% of Internet users search online for health information (Pew Research Center), we bravely persevered with what research told us is the most effective call to action: TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.

The print ad is straightforward. Designed to help people make a list of questions to ask their doctor about seasonal flu and H1N1. I think its simplicity and utilize are unexpected -- and will break through the clutter.


Kudos to MDCH for their research-savvy approach. We'll keep you posted as this just started running.  Let us know what you think!

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