Wellness Goes To Washington

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stu Fink is an incredibly talented Associate Creative Director here at the agency. He gives thoughtful insightful here on the difference between being proactive vs. reactive. But not about the creative.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Stu:

With the battle over Universal Health Care showing no signs of abating anytime soon, it was a pleasure to read a recent Op-Ed by Senator Tom Harkin (D, Iowa) that thankfully did not reduce this complicated debate to an overly simplified game of “Socialists vs. Sadists.” What Harkin did, instead, was shine a light on one area of this proposed legislation that, until now, has largely been ignored. And that’s Wellness.

Harkin writes, “I view this legislation as our opportunity to recreate America as a genuine wellness society – a society that is focused on prevention, good nutrition, fitness, and public health.” Later he writes that 95% of every health care dollar is currently earmarked for illnesses and conditions after they occur. That leaves just five percent for prevention.

I tend to think Harkin’s point transcends politics. Some of you may beg to differ. What is fascinating, regardless of your political affiliation, is just how long it’s taken Washington to make the connection between Wellness and Illness.

I tend to split our client roster into two distinct camps. Proactive Health and Reactive Healthcare. Into the camp of Proactive Health falls any product or service promoting preventative steps to remain healthy. Being able to protect your eyes from UV rays with Transitions Lenses, that’s Proactive Health. Being able to protect you and your partner from a sexually transmitted disease with Durex Condoms, that’s Proactive Health.

Reactive Healthcare encompasses our clients that offer medication and resources to those who who are already “sick.” Staving off a second heart attack with Plavix, that’s Reactive Healthcare. Protecting your esophagus from damage with Nexium, that’s Reactive Healthcare.

But the truth of the matter is this: these are not two distinct camps. They are intrinsically linked and forever intertwined. One camp often leads directly into the other. Protect your skin from the sun today, cut down on your chances of skin cancer tomorrow. It’s pretty simple. We get it, and we’re just marketers. Thankfully, Washington seems to be getting it, too. Better late than never, I suppose.

In the words of Jim, I hope this finds you well.

- Stu Fink, Associate Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


A CFO's Take on Proposed Tax Regulation for Pharma Advertisers

>> Monday, June 29, 2009

Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, recently wrote a guest editorial in AdAge about potential new tax laws for advertising prescription drugs. I'm not sure I understand why one industry would be treated any differently than another, but I do know that it has huge potential impact. Our CFO, Michael Day, gives his perspective on the topic.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Michael:

Q: When does a Finance Guy write a Wellness blog post?

A: When the Government considers unfair tax regulation on advertising by the prescription drug industry.

Mr. Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, is spot-on in his guest editorial in AdAge. The approach currently under consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee (HW&MC) has far reaching, extremely negative ramifications for Free Speech, the health of Americans, the stability of some 21 million jobs (as Mr. Liodice points out as supported by the advertising industry) but also for the USA’s place in the world of business.

You can read about it here: http://adage.com/article?article_id=137578

The HW&MC is considering eliminating the ability for advertisers of prescription drugs to claim their advertising expenses as deductions. For this select group of manufacturers, the previously legitimate business expense will no longer be such. But only for them.

If the Tax Code can be manipulated to support or punish industries based on who is or is not popular with the political forces of the day, can any industry be confident they aren’t next? Additionally, toward the broader economic wellness, would any investor or company choose to place their money in a country where such whims would determine if their investment made any return?

The conversation itself seems odd. If advertising by this segment of American business is so problematic, you would expect a large-scale movement in Congress proper to prohibit pharmaceutical marketing. It just happened (again) for the Tobacco industry, but pharmaceuticals were not addressed.

The industry understands the sensitivity and the desire to balance consumer health benefits with the cost of healthcare. Both the ANA and the AAAA, along with PhRMA, are all working with the current Presidential Administration to draft new guidelines to deliver that balance. Wouldn't it be great if the HW&MC joined that process, rather than spend taxpayer time and money to draft a rule that will likely need to survive Supreme Court review (if it can) before it possible goes into effect?

- Michael Day, CFO at Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications Group


New Ambien CR Rooster Webisodes

The agency has gotten a lot of accolades for our work on Ambien CR with the "Rooster" campaign. We just recently extended the campaign to include a series of webisodes which are quite inventive. I'll let our lead account person, Sarah Hall, fill you in on how we got there.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Sarah:

There's something surreal about being on a shoot sitting in a dark room with crates of roosters surrounding you. But then again, there's something surreal about our Ambien CR "Rooster" campaign. And that's exactly why we have so much fun working on it! The exciting part is that we've just taken the campaign to a whole new level.

From this campaign's initial stages, or it's hatching, we knew we had stumbled upon a great icon to represent insomnia. The campaign received a lot of attention last year when it was introduced with a series of :15 teaser spots and followed up with a branded :60 (over a million hits to the microsite in less than 2 weeks!).

In addition to the blogs and articles written about the campaign, it has also been nice to have the Rooster acknowledged with industry awards. After about 10 months on air we feel he still has wings, and therefore have recently extended the campaign to include a new :60 commercial and a series of webisodes to demonstrate how your next day is effected as a result of the Rooster coming in the middle of the night.

The webisodes gave us the chance to really bring the Rooster to life, so to speak, and to dramatize even further its symbolism for the effects of insomnia.

Check them out on the brand's official site: www.ambiencr.com (click on the rooster on the left).

The development of this campaign is one I won't soon forget. I can't say I was ever familiar with Roosters before this, but in the last year we've all become somewhat experts on them. So if you find yourself in the company of a Rooster here are some tips we've picked up:
  • They don't like working in the rain
  • They won't respond to direction unless food is involved (usually smelly, living food)
  • They crow when they want to crow
  • They like to peck eyes

All in all they are actually pretty cool creatures. The more time we spent with them, the more we appreciated what marvelous animals they are. Even if they only have ability to learn one task therefore requiring multiple roosters for one commercial, they are innately pretty funny animals without even trying.
Make sure you check out their many talents in the webisodes.

Wishing you all a rooster free night!

- Sarah Hall, Account Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Farrah: A Brave Angel

>> Friday, June 26, 2009

We lost two of the biggest pop icons of our generation yesterday, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. The gaps they both leave behind will never be filled again. Fortunately, their contributions to our society have already been immortalized.

I'd like to comment on a particular gift that one of them left behind for us.

"Farrah's Story" is a documentary that Farrah Fawcett ("Double F" as her friends call her) released just this past May. Rather than focusing on the glamorous life that could only be led by an "Angel", Farrah shockingly allowed us to witness her battle with cancer first hand.

The documentary is raw and very hard to watch, particularly when you contrast it with Charlie's Angels. But it is a rare gift from a very public person who showed us what it's like to deal with a very crippling disease.

You can read a little bit about it here:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30749929/

"Farrah's Story" gives us the opportunity to see what it's like to go through cancer treatments. To experience the ups and downs of a deadly disease. To witness the side effects of drug therapies that were created to help extend life.

The documentary also shows us a woman filled with hope and love. Something that you have to have if you are going to fight a disease like cancer, or any other disease.

We work on a number brands that treat critical diseases, like cancer. Having the chance to really understand what it's like to live with these drugs and to fight these diseases is indeed a gift. It's a window into something we might not ever otherwise see.

Despite the pain and frustration, Farrah also gave us a peak into an incredibly strong and brave woman who fought the good fight every single day. Famous or not.

As "Double F" says at the end of her documentary, "What Are You Fighting For?"

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Our Own "Blue Ocean Strategy"

>> Thursday, June 25, 2009

Have you heard of the book? It's not exactly new, but it was wildly successful just a short time ago. I picked it up again just recently and scanned back through the first few chapters. It's quite enlightening.

Here's the "cliff notes" version from my perspective ...... when marketing your brand, don't go where all of your competitors are already fighting it out. Go to a new space, an uncharted space where you can really stand out and win. Go to a big, expansive blue ocean where all is clear.

Some might call it going out of the box but it's even bigger than that. Going to uncharted territory is big thinking that can often be scary and risky. But when successful, the rewards can be huge.

Our agency just recently had our own blue ocean experience that resulted in a big new business win. And while we didn't ever call it a "blue ocean strategy" in the process, we did sub-consciously go to a whole new space in the category. We dove into a big blue ocean.

Can't divulge the brand or client, because it's a new product that has not launched yet. I can tell you that it's in a highly competitive consumer category, where there are multiple brands already fighting for attention and share. All playing the same game, all making the same noise, all swimming in the same pool.

In the new business pitch, we came in with a totally different approach, knowing full well that we were taking a risk.

It wasn't rocket science, but it did allow the brand to play in a different space, in a different way than all the other competitors in the category.

Score! The client loved it and awarded us the business. And we had a blast in the process. If all goes well, I'm sure it will become among the best of the agency's work ever.

Doin' the butterfly!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Rain Rage

>> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout......

Is the weather washing you out? You're not alone. Our newest Strategic Planner, Tim Flood (no pun intended), has been observing New Yorkers as they deal with all the wet weather.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Tim:

"The New Wet Normal"

I woke this morning to CNN's anchor stating the obvious to New Yorkers, "Can you believe rain has fallen for 18 of the first 23 days of June?" As if we needed a heads-up on what's been going on in soggy Gotham. Personally, I've been able to put on a delusional shield against the weather, continually reminding myself this can't last forever. But I can't say the same for my fellow New Yorkers who seem more ornery than usual.

The constant bad weather has taken its toll on New Yorkers and it’s greatly affecting their mood, outlook and overall wellness.

This past week, I’ve heard New Yorkers tell stories of cancelled bbq parties, craft fairs, postponed trips to the Hamptons and how their personality has dramatically changed over the past few weeks. The weather is even affecting New Yorker’s health and eating habits. In fact, Weight Watchers has reported weight gain among their members this week.

Virginia Cusick, 58, a teacher from Staten Island, NY said, “I don’t feel like myself these days. In fact, I don’t feel like doing much of anything…and I’m quick to anger”. That anger is being described by The New Times as “Rain Rage” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/20/nyregion/20rain.html).

In fact, this past Saturday I saw first-hand this city's wellness at its breaking point.

My father and I were at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament at Bethpage Black, our Father's Day tradition. We hung out in the rain for hours, soaked, while following our favorite, Phil Mickelson. Around noon, we decided to grab a few hotdogs and a couple of beers. As we waited in line, in the rain, two 40-something guys began yelling at each other - one claimed the other had cut him in line. Profanities quickly turned into shoving, and shoving turned into a left-handed upper cut.

Watching all this happen, I realized they weren't bad guys: just average fathers in khakis and polo shirts, soaked to the skin at an event they'd probably been looking forward to all year. Their favorite weekend had been ruined & they simply lost it.

There is hope though.

Ani Kalayjian, Ed.D., R.N., professor of psychology at Fordham University NY, advises that we "can and should take proactive steps to strengthen the brain's system against weather-driven mood changes. We encourage people to take charge of their feelings," says Dr. Kalayjian. "Do things that make you feel good, like listening to uplifting music or reading a good novel. Feelings are transient; we can change them, transform them into positive," concludes Dr. Kalayjian.

As for me, I think the answer lies in sodden solidarity, reminding ourselves this can’t last forever and we’re all in this together.

- Tim Flood, Strategic Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Zicam and Innovation

>> Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Zicam news from last week has now been reported in virtually every channel imaginable. Anyone in the marketing space knows the scoop. So I wasn't going to comment on it because honestly I didn't think I had anything to add to the story.

But I got to thinkin' ...

I hope that this recent news doesn't become a "Zicam effect" on product innovation. Yes, products should be tested for both their efficacy and their safety. And yes, the FDA should govern over both the practices to prove efficacy/safety as well as manufacturer compliance.

But as a health and wellness industry, we need to continue to innovate. We need to continually come up with new solutions that help consumers stay well. We need to give them options and choices, using the latest in science and technology and imagination.

When Zicam was first introduced, I was working on Tylenol. As someone who was working in the cough/cold/flu category for over a decade, I was so impressed by the innovation. Zicam was a new option for consumers and it quickly became a success.

No we shouldn't put products in the market that can cause damage, and I don't personally know if that's even the case with Zicam. I don't know enough about the situation. But I also don't want to have the industry get scared into submission, and pull back on product development and innovation as a result.

That would be a bad effect of the recent Zicam news. Let's keep innovating -- and testing our imagination.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Nurse Jackie

>> Monday, June 22, 2009

I spent the afternoon on Saturday catching up on the first few episodes of the new Showtime television show, Nurse Jackie. Thanks to "on demand".

I am so intrigued -- it could be another example of television at its best but I'm not quite sure yet.

Think ER meets House meets Maude meets Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde meets Ugly Betty.

The truth is I can't figure out if I like it or not. Partly because I can't figure out if I like the character Nurse Jackie or not.

On the one hand she's "good". She's a highly skilled nurse who really cares about her patients and does everything in their power to help them get better. The nurse in Nurse Jackie does really good things.

On the other hand she's "bad". She lies and manipulates. She cheats the system and her husband. The nurse in Nurse Jackie does really bad things. Shockingly bad things.

Nurse Jackie is human. Real human. She wants to be good, but she knows that she's going to be bad. It's part of being human.

Edie Falco is amazing. When I watch actors like Edie I realize how hard their work really is. She transforms herself in this character. There is not a shade of Carmela Soprano anywhere to be seen. As a viewer, you feel every single bit of the good and bad in her.

I'm not sure, but I think the reason why I find this show so intriguing is because the Nurse Jackie character is much like the healthcare system in which she operates. Both good and bad.

Good because it helps people in trouble. It heals people and puts them on a path to recovery. Bad because it does bad things. It makes bad decisions and it hurts people in the process.

Nurse Jackie is very representative of the healthcare system. Good and bad. Take it or leave it.

Check it out and see what you think. I'm intrigued.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Neutrogena skin iD

>> Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am sure that I'm making the folks at the agency CRAZY with this one, I have been referencing it non-stop. But I have such admiration for the new Neutrogena skin iD brand. Personalized acne solution. 

The bar in the acne wars has just been raised.

I spent years in skin care at Johnson & Johnson, on both the client and agency sides.  16 years ago I launched Clean & Clear, at the time the first line of skin care products exclusively created for teen girls. In my mind and on many a concept page through the years, I have created and re-created version after version of this new Neutrogena skin iD line, but none of my concepts were ever as complete as what this brand has done.

As a consumer, you complete the brand's intricate profile on line and the analyzer creates a "custom" mix of products that will address your specific skin issues, whatever they are. For you and you alone, it might be #12 gel cleanser combined with #32 anti-acne treatment combined with #53 moisturizer.  

Every person in the world thinks that their skin issues are theirs and theirs alone, so this concept of personalized solutions plays right into that insight. Especially for teen girls and acne.

Even better than the site is the television advertising that drives you to the site. Hayden Panettiere is the spokesperson and she literally walks you through the site in the advertising. Not at all the typical :15, :30, or even :60 format. This is long-format, ala info-mercial, ala Proactiv.  Completely engaging and larger than life. Makes you want to jump right in.


The whole point of the advertising is to show you how you can customize the line of products to suit your skin care needs on the website. It's so captivating that you can't wait to get online and order. Obviously the point.

I love it. I love the use of television advertising to drive consumers online. I love the ability to customize a product line for personal needs. I love the use of a spokesperson to teach and motivate. I love the e-commerce. I love that Neutrogena is giving Proactiv a run for the money. Clearly I love a good marketing war.

A true breakthrough in skin care, a category that has seemingly done everything. And a breakthrough in the new marketing model where all the elements of the mix seamlessly work together, one flowing into the other. Driving to web, creating a reason to purchase, motivating consumption.

Congratulations, Neutrogena, and thanks. You're my latest marketing inspiration.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Wall Street Journal Health and Wellness Column

>> Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In another sure sign that our society's focus on wellness is not just a trend or a fad but a true cultural shift, the universally respected Wall Street Journal just launched a permanent health and wellness column. A move right after my own heart!

Yes, a health and wellness column in the WSJ! While they are scaling back their "marketing" coverage, they are expanding their coverage of health and wellness issues facing their readers. That's a wow.

Since the WSJ is presumably all about money and finance then obviously health and wellness issues have an impact on finances, as individuals, companies, and governments. Certainly the current economic environment has been affecting our wellness. You'll see that coming up in our first survey on "Wellness in America", sponsored by Saatchi Wellness. Stay tuned for that one.

Good move, WSJ. We'll be following.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Obama and the AMA

You gotta love the guy. Whether you agree with his policies or not, you gotta love the guy.

President Obama spoke at the American Medical Association yesterday, presumably to generate support for any healthcare reform coming down the line from his administration. He is a brilliant speaker, you must admit, even if you don't agree with his policies.

I don't want to make this a love fest for Obama, but I did love his speech. He knows his audience. He knows who they are and he knows what makes them tick.

He said that he wants doctors to go back to being doctors, not administrators. Hello! I think all of us want that, certainly the health care providers.

"Care" has come out of the "healthcare system", and now it's just a "health system", maybe even without the "health" if you look at some of the rankings of our country vs. other parts of the world. It has become a factory and the patients are just cogs in the wheel.

Doctors go into the field of medicine to help and heal people, not to administer policies dictated by some third party machine. Obama was talking their language, feeling their issues.

Obama also said that he wants to work with doctors to fix healthcare. He wants to listen to them, learn from them, and work with them to get the practice of medicine back to where it should be. The ultimate in collaboration. Again, he was talking their language. Doctors want to feel like they are in control of their field and of their patients.

And the truth is that we do all need to work together. Government, healthcare providers, manufacturers, and dare I say -- agencies. If we are going to put "care" back into the "system", then we need to figure it out together.

I guess Obama was speaking my language too.

You can read more about it here on the WSJ blog: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Functional Foods

>> Friday, June 12, 2009

As the lines blur between food and drugs, consumer confusion, skeptism, and price sensitivity grows, so says this article about Functional Foods (foods that have a "health function"): http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=107616
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about Cheerios and the blurring between food and drugs as the FDA is starting to take note.

This is an incredibly fascinating trend in health and wellness that I know will continue to grow. I was there from the beginning at Johnson & Johnson and we are still only seeing the first signs of a shift in consumer products.

As we continue to pursue a more healthy lifestyle, and as we continue to fight to keep young and healthy, all of us will continue to turn to products that aid in that fight. We will turn to products, specifically food products, that will perhaps help us avoid turning to pharmaceutical products once we are sick.

It's a blurring of the lines that I think is quite healthy. There's no reason why health benefits should only be limited to prescription or OTC drugs. There should be a range of product options from food to OTCs to pharmaceuticals to services that in any category can help consumers stay well.

Digestive health is a good example. There are certainly OTC products available that provide relief. And if the condition is chronic, then prescription alternatives can treat it as appropriate. But then there are the everyday food products that have recently hit the market that can be woven into our daily lifestyle (like drinks, yogurts, cheeses, etc) -- perhaps so effective that the OTC and prescription options never have to be exercised. Or only exercised as options should the condition get worse.

Blurring the lines, yes. Causing consumer confusion, maybe for now in some cases, but that will change over time. Providing consumers with a range of options that best fit their needs, absolutely.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


New FDA Guidance

>> Thursday, June 11, 2009

My friend Bob Ehrlich from DTC Perspectives and OTC Perspectives has a great point-of-view on the recent advance on new FDA Guidelines. I like Bob's perspective because he's not sounding any alarm bells, yet is acknowledging a new day in FDA regulation for prescription drugs. He's pretty level-headed and full of common sense, which I appreciate.

You can read Bob's comments here, directly on the DTC Perspectives website: http://www.dtcperspectives.com/article/DDMAC-Offers-Guidance/150.html

Here's my take away, from both the new guidance and from Bob's great assessment:

1) Take a look at the totality of the marketing communication. Is it balanced in terms of product claims and associated risks? What is the net take away for the consumer? Is the brand promising more than it can deliver and does the consumer understand both sides of the equation?

2) In testing, make sure that you're looking at the totality of the communication (as stated above), not just the benefits. We tend to focus our efforts on product positioning, claims, and creative approach in our testing, and perhaps that's only one side of the communication.

3) Get pre-clearance from DDMAC and build it into the timetable. Always.

4) Not just for print and tv anymore -- all vehicles should be looked at from the same perspective of totality of communication. While a lot of this guidance focuses on tv and print, we know that digital, crm, retail, and all other channels are under the same scrutiny.

5) Don't be surprised when the questions come from the FDA. Increased scrutiny means more questions and a more constant dialogue between the FDA and marketers. There's nothing wrong with that, let's collaborate.

5) Not just for prescription drugs --- all products that talk health will eventually face the same guidance, or so I believe. Embrace it and thrive within it. The lines are blurring and good health does not just come from prescription drugs.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


GE Healthcare

>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Have you seen the new GE Healthcare campaign? It's a very engaging television campaign that not only stimulates and entertains, it sets a tone and character for the company that in my opinion is unmatched.  The television campaign is merely the most visible part of the GE marketing plan, however, what lies beneath is an incredible innovation in healthcare, right online.  Our strategic planner, Jacob Braude, would like to give you some thoughts.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Jacob:

There's Magic in the Data

GE just launched a new Web app that touches on two things near and dear to our hearts at SSW: wellness and data visualization.

They call it "Taking a New Look at Health" and you can play with it here: http://www.ge.com/visualization/health_visualizer/

You can select any two categories and a visual interface using color and icons immediately makes connections between things like weight and diabetes, or age and stroke, leap from the screen. The point here isn't the discovery of some previously unknown relationship between a disease and a demographic. That's old news.

The point is the fusion of design and data to create the potential for startling and powerful insights.

We're undergoing a sea change in marketing. Whereas data used to be scarce and expensive, as a result of the proliferation of the Internet and social media, we're now drowning in data. Who would have ever imagined that we could have access to hundreds of reviews of prescription drugs with a single click (www.askapatient.com)!

Data visualization is the answer to this change, and as the partnership between our designers and our strategic planners better develops we will all be treated to some truly amazing and insightful projects that allow us to visualize and engage with these data sets in new and powerful ways. GE's foray is just the beginning.

Stay tuned.

- Jacob Braude, Strategic Planner, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Is the Recession Making Us Fat?

>> Monday, June 8, 2009

One of our planners extraordinaire, Betsy Levine, writes this intriguing response to a recent article about rising obesity rates. Is the recession to blame? Betsy has a thought or two.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Betsy:

In a posting to the Human Condition blog from Newsweek on June 1, Kate Dailey asks “Is the Recession Making Americans Fatter?” (click here for article)

Apparently, in the last year the number of Americans who are obese has increased 1.7% -- almost 5.5 million more people are now obese than a year ago. Is the recession making it worse? They do call it comfort food for a reason (and aren’t we all looking for a little comfort), but when did comfort food come to mean McDonalds (the article points out that fast food sales are up) rather than a thick slice of mom’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes?

Rising obesity has been a trend for years…it’s bigger than the recession. Americans’ fundamental relationship with food is really at the heart of the issue. We have come to see everyday food as something that is produced, fully-formed from a microwavable box. It’s fast, filling, cheap and doesn’t require thought or skill. Food that does is more pornography than anything else, an out-of-reach ideal to be salivated over (thank you, Giada DeLaurentiis).

What is extremely interesting about the timing of this jump in obesity rates is how much anti-processed foods drumbeating there’s been during the same time period. Michael Pollen (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), and Mark Bittman (NYT’s Minimalist) are a few of the figures who have been commanding a lot of media attention, with variations on a back-to-basics philosophy of eating.

What these numbers say is that their message isn’t breaking through to those at risk. Is the back-to-basics eating philosophy too intellectual to become a mass movement? Does someone who eats fast food 5x a week assume that they could never afford to eat that way because it comes from the pages of the New York Times? Do people believe that healthy eating is out of reach for them? Or does it just seem too hard -- is the convenience of a mass produced burger more seductive than wellness?

As marketers of wellness, how do we out-market the squishy, soft, manufactured yummy-ness of a Fluffernutter on Wonder Bread?

- Betsy Levine, Strategic Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Gallup Wellness Tracking

>> Sunday, June 7, 2009

Here's a post from our Director of Strategic Planning, Johanna Skilling, about Gallup's efforts to track wellness. Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Johanna:

If you needed any further proof that wellness is the dominant trend of our times, check out The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been asking 1,000 Americans about their well-being every single day since January 2008. As of June 4, the total number surveyed had reached over half a million.

The Gallup folks call the Index “the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to measure what people believe constitutes a good life.” Just to underscore the scope of this project, the final survey will take place somewhere around my mother’s 100th birthday… in 2033. That’s 25 years of history on our well-being.

But you don’t have to wait that long to see what’s happening. As you can see, on June 4th, well-being was a notch higher than it was a month ago, emotional health was flat, and physical health was a little worse. You can click on the picture to go right to the site.

But there’s more. For me, one of the standout reports is the Gallup Daily Consumer Mood. Take a look at the current chart, below: While only 7% of us are feeling cheery, 34% are willing to acknowledge that things aren’t all bad, a sunny comparison to even a few months ago.

Buried in the data is an interesting testament to the choices we’re all able to make about our individual well-being – in this case, our own mood! According to Gallup scientist James K. Harter, Ph.D., “The best predictors of good versus bad days are the amount of social time people spend with family or friends and feeling well-rested.”

So have dinner with some friends, get a good night’s rest ... and watch those wellness numbers climb.

- Johanna Skilling, Director of Strategic Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Agency Evolved

>> Friday, June 5, 2009

To understand where I am coming from with this post, you need to read at least the first few paragraphs of this article in AdAge about traditional agencies trying to gain traction in the digital space: http://adage.com/smallagency/post?article_id=137057

This hits very close to home for us here at SSW. It's not that I disagree with Andy (who wrote the article), it's just that he makes too broad of a sweeping generalization about "traditional" agencies.

You could easily say (and many do), that our roots are "traditional". Just three years ago our work was dominated by television advertising. Every strategic plan started with research to find "the nugget" and every creative presentation started with a storyboard. It was a methodology and a business model that served many a client quite well.

But we've evolved. Evolved with consumers and with our clients.

We've completely changed our strategic planning vision to include truly understanding the consumer as they live their lives and we create brand experiences that intersect with them, on their terms. And our business has changed as a result.

We are not longer dominated by television advertising -- in fact our "work" is equally split along advertising, crm, and digital lines. Sure there are learning curves, like in anything. It's a creative process after all, and there are always ups and downs and ins and outs. True for anything that involves teams of people trying to solve complicated marketing challenges.

But the silo's are gone and we are doing incredible, integrated work. Work that is strategically sound and specifically constructed to solve the particular marketing challenge, with digital or otherwise.

So yes, there may still be "traditional" agencies out there still trying to move along the digital curve. It's a curve that we are all navigating, and will continue to navigate.

But in the meantime, consider us an Agency Evolved. We will always be evolving and I love it that way.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


It's What They Repeat

>> Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm up in Boston at the first annual OTC Perspectives National Conference. I had the honor of being the first speaker during the first morning of the first day of the first conference of this new organization. I moderated the entire morning of speakers who all spoke about "doing more with less", something I'm sure we are all quite familiar with these days.

While everyone did a great job, and certainly had much to say about "doing more with less", I was fascinated by a talk that came right after my module that was centered around consumer messaging.

Bill Schley from davidID spoke at great length about how to connect with consumers with your brand's messaging. His premise is this:
- yes it's important that consumers connect with your brand
- yes it's important that consumers remember your brand
- but what really counts is what they repeat about your brand

It's What They Repeat!

How fabulous! Social media at its core. Word of mouth at its essence.

The key is to connect with consumers in such a meaningful way that they simply and fully understand what you are all about as a brand and then they are able to capture it in a sound byte that they can repeat to others.

To their friends and family. To others who might want to know. Who can then repeat to others. It's What They Repeat!

He used the example of "the breakfast of champions." Yes it's a tagline, but don't get caught up in that. It's also a very simple articulation of what the brand is all about and it's instantly "repeatable" and instantly "understandable". I have not even mentioned the brand name or the brand attributes for this specific example and I'm betting that you know exactly what I am talking about.

It's What They Repeat!

Wonderful. An inspiring way to look at messaging development, and an even more fundamental way to look at positioning.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.



You've probably heard of the tv show "Intervention" on A&E. You may not know that they have a new spin off called "Obsessed". Same format except that this show profiles people with behavioral issues like OCD and other clinically diagnosed mental health conditions.

It is riveting, even more so than "Intervention".

For those of us who do work in mental health, it is incredibly enlightening to watch people struggle through their lives with any kind of issue. I've seen two episodes of the show so far, and have watch four incredible vital people try to control their OCD.

It is incredible how it takes over their lives. And incredible how they are able to overcome it and live a "normal" life through the help of specialists who know how to treat it.

Completely enlightening, inspiring, and humbling all at the same time. And even educating -- it's given me new information to apply to our work in mental health. As we create programs to help educate consumers, it's so important to really understand how these conditions affect their day to day lives.

Please check out the show. Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Alive and Kickin'

>> Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's a post from our newest member of our Strategic Planning Group, Jacob Braude. He has something to say about the death of television advertising. Just because there's new media doesn't mean the old media totally goes away. We just have to understand its role in the mix.
Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Jacob:

Surprise Surprise, Traditional Advertising Still Works

I was excited to see an article today (http://adage.com/article?article_id=136993) on AdAge reporting on the results of an ongoing collaboration between the Wharton School and the Advertising Research Foundation which reaffirmed the continuing impact of TV and print advertising on sales.

One of the most interesting stats reported in the article tied together "old media" (TV and print) with the new fashion: word of mouth (WOM).

"A study co-authored by one of the biggest proponents of word-of-mouth marketing, Ed Keller of the Keller Fay group and co-author of seminal tome 'The Influentials,' finds 22% of word-of-mouth conversations were sparked directly by advertising. Moreover, those 22% are much more likely to include brand recommendations than the remaining 78% of brand-related conversations that weren't spurred directly by an ad."

If you're like me, you've been talking and hearing a lot about how new and social media are changing our consumers - and you've probably heard the phrase "TV is dead" more than a few times. Well, we'll be the first to tell you that our consumers are changing, and not just because of new technologies (although that has a lot to do with the pace at which they are changing). But as these papers confirm, the media and best practices that worked for brands 10 years ago, still work.

I think Professor Wind from Wharton said it best in the article: "The major concern about the decreased impact of TV advertising is not founded," he said. "TV is still very effective. At the same time, there are a lot of things we don't know."

There area lot of things we don't know. And the exciting part is that we all get to find out together.

- Jacob Braude, Strategic Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Working With Animals

>> Monday, June 1, 2009

I mean the real kind, not the ones you are thinking!  This post comes from one of our dedicated ACDs, Janice DiMaggio, who is the creative inspiration behind all of our work on Frontline Plus.  As in fleas and ticks.  Janice talks about her work with the talent in front of the camera for our latest campaign.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Janice:

You’ve heard the complaints. Dogs lie around all day. Cats rarely listen to you.

Well, not the Frontline Plus dogs and cats. These furry little guys are “professionals”. They’re called “actor pets” and they love their job. You would too if you got fed all day for doing such tricks as “walking across the room and act like this bed is the most comfortable place in the house.”

They love the attention and seem to love the camera. But I ask you, “How come the camera doesn’t put an extra 10 lbs on them?”

If you’ve haven’t seen the Frontline Plus commercials, take a look at www.KillsFleasAndTicksFast.com   It’s a simple yet powerful strategy. Protect your pet. Period. Because it can impact your home– where you sleep and eat and where you raise your children.

And it only takes one flea on your pet, to turn into thousands in your home.

Since no one really likes to see a flea (they’re disgusting after all), it seemed like a perfect solution to depict them as numbers multiplying to infinity. The “wiggly digits” as the director called them.

The campaign has done so well that we’ve extended it to print, direct mail, posters, web, you name it. So we got to shoot the pets again! Everyone including the client and photographer were located on the east coast. Everyone, that is, except the dog and cat. That’s when we learned that the dog wouldn’t fly. LOL. So we had to ship everyone back to LA.

We could think of worse things.

Spend my work days romping around with cuddly canines instead of sitting behind a desk staring at a computer screen? Hmm. Ok, twist my arm. In reality, the only one doing the romping was the dog. He had a “crush” on the female talent.

Work with dogs or cats for a day and it will make an animal lover out of you.

Learn a little bit about the devastation of a flea infestation, and you’ll want to keep your best friend and your home as safe as possible with Frontline Plus. There’s a reason it’s the Vet’s #1 Choice for flea and tick control.

I know I speak for the team when I say, “We can’t wait to work with them again". 

We could all use a slobbering wet kiss every now and then.

- Janice DiMaggio, ACD at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness