Recession hurts wellness, not just wallets

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

That was's top story this morning, based on our survey, "Wellness & the Economy." (Read the article


We think it's telling that AdWeek chose to run the story as a feature, because the truth is, wellness is a factor in virtually every area of our lives, and in every category marketers are in (which is to say, all of them!).

Where once upon a time—say, before the economy tanked last year – affluent Americans defined “wellness” as being fit, healthy, and leading a balanced life, a dramatic shift has taken place: As the survey reveals, consumers’ #1 definition of wellness has changed from “being healthy” to “re-inventing.” Just take a look at the difference between the top 3 answers from last year to this: it’s clear that we’re operating in a whole new consumer environment.

What does wellness mean to you?



Being healthy


Feeling good inside and out


Being balanced

Sleeping well

Here are some of the ways responders described the change in their own lives:

Ø "Before, wellness meant eating right and exercising. Now it means being sane in a very desperate world."

Ø "Wellness used to mean feeling comfortable within my own skin, no matter how much I had to spend. Now it’s the peace of mind that comes with knowing I can pay the rent."

Ø " I used to believe in taking care of myself pre-emotively and proactively. Now I’m trying to maintain my mental heath and stress levels so I can function daily."

The more we’re affected by the economy, the less we tend to take care of ourselves, even in such basic areas as food and exercise. When we do work out, it’s all about stress relief, rather than appearance. The economy is taking a toll on our appearance – even our sex lives are suffering.

So what’s a wellness marketer to do? Here are our top 5 tips for making your brand relevant to today’s consumers, along with some of our favorite “wellness” campaigns that tap into the new zeitgeist. Most of these examples aren’t from marketers traditionally associated with wellness… but who’ve learned that true wellness transcends old definitions

  1. Look at how your product helps people reinvent their lives -- and even their everyday experiences. Wal-Mart’s new spot for Blue Bunny ice cream emphasizes that having ice cream at home can be just as much a treat for kids as going out to the local cone shop.

2. Help people see opportunity for change and rebuilding. Home Depot’s “Say Hello to savings” campaign celebrates the “budgetmasters” and “can-doers” who are busy improving both their homes and their lives.

3. Show how your product can help consumers keep what they have. Allstate’s “Back to Basics” campaign reminds consumers that what they have is worth cherishing – and protecting.

4. Reward consumers for being smarter, savvier shoppers. We’re learning to clip coupons, compare prices and find ways to make ends meet in ways that most of us haven’t had to think about for years. Microsoft’s series, “I’m a PC,” emphasizes that PC laptop buyers can have the functions they value, at a “value” price… and at least in the spots, rewards savvy shoppers who choose a PC with a free laptop.

5. Connect with people’s need to stay sane in a crazy world. Despite the mess we’re in, we’re still looking for ways to connect and have fun, without spending a lot of money. Selfishly, we happen to think that our campaign for Durex says it all… reminding people that there are all kinds of ways to find some pleasure.

We're happy to share more complete results! Email me at

Hope this finds you well!



Learning By Video Game

>> Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You might remember the Woody Allen line from 'Sleepers' where he says "Everything my mother told me is 'good for me' is actually bad for me: milk, sun, red meat, college. . ." Today could it be that the reverse has come true: that something that's been the scorn of parents for 25 years -- video games -- could be good for you?

I'm not talking about how Grand Theft Auto is the secret to higher SAT scores. But I recently had an experience that led me to question conventional wisdom about video games and their future role in how children learn.

My two young boys are die-hard Beatles fans and spent last summer anticipating the release of Beatles rock band. We hadn't owned a rock band game -- the boys had learned to play courtesy of their Uncle Kelsey, our own closet Ozzie -- but knowing the basics, they were already primed when the 6 year-old's birthday came three weeks after the game's release.

And they became Beatles. At least in their own sweet heads. Playing on stage with the Fab Four at the Cavern Club, in Shea Stadium, at Abbey Road. They (and their friends) have been mesmerized by the experience of the game and the sense that they are creating the music right alongside the real Beatles.

But then a funny thing happened. Like a lot of parents, before we ever thought of Rock Band we bought a piano (and two guitars, and a drum set) to try to encourage our own little musicians to blossom. Not our efforts, nor the thousands of dollars we've probably paid to instructors over the years, made any real impact -- but Beatles Rock Band did. Both boys now sit and doodle at the piano, or will now and then pick up and strum a real guitar. Lessons are still required, but now the desire is firmly there.

I read that when the Beatles were contemplating developing their version of Rock Band, this was their very premise: Rock Band wasn't a game, but a modern day tool that would bring the joy of music to an age that mostly knows pop tarts (the Brittany Spears/Shakira kind) or what they hear on the radio (which is basically the same stuff that was being played on radio when PacMan was first released). The Beatles were right again. Talk in the language of your audience, and you'll be surprised how deeply you can affect them.

Now all we need is the video game that makes that course on Beowolf enjoyable and we're good to go. Be well.



>> Monday, November 16, 2009

First, a little patting ourselves on the back.

On Friday night, at the Clio Healthcare Awards our work for Ambien CR won not only a Gold Clio (one of only two awarded) but the Grand Clio as well.

The campaign, called Silence Your Rooster, has been acknowledged in and out of the healthcare world as truly breakthrough creative. Accepting the awards for the agency were Andrew Curtis (copywriter) and Jay Marrotte (art director). See the teasers that started it all at See all the winners at

Now, a few words about the show. As this was the very first show of it’s kind, the healthcare theme abounded. Servers were dressed as doctors and nurses and there were x-rays everywhere. I believe I also saw a crash cart serving pasta. It was kitschy and fun (although I could have done without the surgical tubing on the hors d’oeuvres tray).

Special guest, heart surgeon, writer, professor and most recently talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz received the first ever Honorary Clio Healthcare Award.

See you there next year. I’ll be the one not in scrubs.

Helayne Spivak


It's Veteran's Day: Kiss A Soldier!

>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009

91 years ago today marked the official end of the Great War, the “the war to end all wars.” Now, of course, we know that war as World War I, for reasons we all know, all too well.

So November 11th became Armistice Day, which gradually became Veterans’ Day. I’ll be honest -- while Veteran’s Day always makes me think, I don’t observe it in any overt way. I’m not closely connected with any troops in this war (other wars were different).

But on my way to work today I saw a poster for something that gave New Yorkers like me a chance to do something sweet for the people who give so much to so many. Thanks to Cosmopolitan and Maybelline, I (and you too, if you’re in the city today between 7 am and 7 pm!) can send a kiss to a soldier serving overseas. Maybelline is providing the lipstick so you can pucker up on a postcard – with room to write a message of support.

For every kiss collected, Cosmo & Maybelline will donate a $1 to the United Service Organizations (USO), the designated charity partner.

So I’m going to try to help them make their goal of setting a world’s record for most kisses collected. If you want to join me, click here to see the schedule and locations throughout the day!

And today of all days, to our troops, those who love them, and all of us who support and care for them, we here at Saatchi Wellness hope this finds you well.



Wellness In A New City

>> Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remember what it was like to embark on a new career, in a new city, in a never before seen new apartment (now that’s faith)? Jaime Walker, our winning Big Ad Gig copywriter, reminds us all that wellness is made up of all kinds of choices, including a very positive attitude.

Enjoy her experiences.

~Helayne Spivak


After winning the Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness internship at the Big Ad Gig, I was delirious with happiness. On the plane ride home to Atlanta, it became obvious that I was also delirious with a 101-degree fever. I was sweating. I was chilled. My cough sounded more like emphysema than sore throat. Surprisingly, I couldn’t have been happier. I was a portfolio school student in possession of what is now a rarity: a shot in advertising. I crawled into bed for a week, ready to die happy.

Thankfully, I lived. I landed in NYC this week feeling great, ready to see my new digs in Brooklyn. I began settling into my bedroom, the fourth wall of which is a thin, rickety, bamboo curtain. The curtain doesn’t really provide privacy, but at least it amuses my roommate’s obese cats to constantly attack it. Starving, I bought tons of groceries only to discover that we don’t exactly have a stove or an oven. I took a shower to relax and almost killed myself by forgetting the huge step down out of the very raised tub. My home sweet home is a comedy of errors, and yet every night after work I go to bed smiling.

No, I’m not a masochist. I’ve realized that wellness is a mind/body concept. You can be ecstatic with the flu if you have a great job opportunity. You can love your less than comfortable accommodations if they mean that you’re starting a new adventure. In short, you can use your thinking to improve how your body is feeling.

That’s why I’m excited to be starting at an agency that understands wellness and whose approach to health and pharmaceutical branding is the essence of great advertising: appeal to people’s emotions. Make them feel something, then tell them how they can feel better. So I’m settling in here at Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness and I'm feeling well, like I’m ready for anything. But I’m still taking my vitamins and looking into how much it costs to build a fourth wall. Like I said, I’m not a masochist.

Jaime Walker


The Eternal Debate

>> Monday, November 9, 2009

Mac vs. PC
Star Wars vs. Star Trek
Boxers vs. briefs

Outside of the agency world, bring up any of the above and it's sure to spark a heated debate over a cold pint.

Inside the agency world, however, the fastest way to pick a fight is to pick a side in the "traditional" vs "digital" agency debate. Case in point: the recent AdAge blog post by Ana Andjelic, titled "Why Digital Agencies Aren't Ready to Lead," which is setting off a firestorm of debate from both sides of the aisle.

There is a natural tendency to over-simplify and stereotype each kind of agency—labeling the digital agency as innovative, fresh, and nimble but not very strategic; characterizing traditional agencies as having creative and strategic strength but lacking in terms of experimentation, technology and speed—and these stereotypes are usually the first things people challenge. A quick scan of the article's comments will show you exactly what I'm talking about.

But arguing over the accuracy of a stereotype or debating the merits of one agency type over another overlooks an interesting concept that the article introduces, which is a theory of "exploration vs exploitation". As described by James March, organizations, in an effort to evolve and grow, must balance the "exploration of new possibilities" against "the exploitation of old certainties." Do they invest in an unknown future at the expense of current profit? Or do they play to current strengths and reap immediate benefit while sacrificing in the long term? As someone who has helped an agency change over the past several years, I know all too well how challenging it is to find the right balance between these two opposable forces.

Whether you agree with the overall sentiment of the post (that digital agencies just don't get it) or not, it's clear that the rapidly changing needs of our clients are the driving force behind this evolution. They need agencies that are capable of generating innovative ideas while mastering execution, and ones that can demonstrate success in both mass channels and more precise and measurable ones. Regardless of how they are labeled, agencies that "get" this will succeed; those that don't will struggle.

Time will tell if it's the digital agencies or traditional ones that ultimately "win" this battle to balance exploration and exploitation, but everyone stands to benefit as a result. Continued evolution, and therefore competition, leads to a stronger marketplace, where ideas are better, the solutions more innovative, and our clients are more successful in achieving their goals.

When that happens, not only will agencies and clients win, but our consumers do too.


Learning by Degrees...

>> Thursday, November 5, 2009

I’m teaching a portfolio class for the wonderful Miami Ad School. The students, as always, are smart, challenging and extremely talented. I began the very first class by talking about what I look for when I look through a creative person’s book. Namely, a solid idea. I heard one of my students say under his breath…”Isn’t that kinda old fashioned”. For a second I thought he was talking about my boots from 3 seasons ago so I asked him what was so old fashioned? He said…”All this talk about the big idea. That’s not the way we do things”. How did he do things? He informed me that what he did 360 degree thinking. I informed him and the rest of the class that continuous 360 degree thinking without a solid idea is what is called “Going In Circles”. That’s not old fashioned or new fashioned that’s just a fact. A cool idea for a brand, that doesn’t relate to, come from or build the brand is just a very un-cool waste of time and money. What made Burger King’s Subservient Chicken idea so good wasn’t only that it was so wonderfully weird, it’s that it came directly out of Burger King’s HAVE IT YOUR WAY heritage. And if 360 degree thinking is so important (and it is) why is it that so many young creative's books are filled with web sites and phone apps and little else? Seems like that’s only about 43 degrees of the circle. Where else do we connect? How else can we socially interact? Are we confusing tactics with ideas? So, this term, we’re going to concentrate on big, old-fashioned ideas. Presented in ways that weren’t even imagined a few years ago.

Helayne Spivak


"Slow Is The New Fast"

>> Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Years ago, I was obsessed with a Cy Coleman / Dorothy Fields musical called Seesaw. It starred Tommy Tune and featured a song called “It’s Not Where You Start.” It came back to mind this morning, when I was reading Tara Parker-Pope’s story in the New York Times about her experience running the ING New York City Marathon.

Tara writes that she was “at the back of the pack of the estimated 43,000 who participated in the New York City Marathon, and I was thrilled to be there.” Like most of the runners out that day, she was not out to gain anything but a sense of doing her best. And you've got to love the slogan on her shirt: “Slow Is the New Fast.”

There was someone else out there this weekend too, someone we have an especially soft spot for. Zoe Koplowitz holds the world record for the longest time to finish a marathon (sorry, Tara!): she also has multiple sclerosis (MS) and diabetes.This year, Zoe completed a mind-blowing 21st consecutive NYC marathon, after 28 hours and 45 minutes.

That’s a Monday afternoon finish, for a race that started Sunday morning. Apart from helping to raise awareness about MS, and more than $210,000 to fight it, Zoe showed us something else: you don’t have to come in first to win.

The lyrics to that song from Seesaw, by the way? They go like this:

It's not where you start, it's where you finish
It's not how you go, it's how you land
A hundred to one shot, you call him a clutz
Can out run the favorite, all he needs is the guts
Your final return will not diminish
And you can be the cream of the crop
It's not where you start, it's where you finish
And you're gonna finish on top!

Here’s hoping you’re well.