iPad, Health, and Wellness

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

Unless you were living under a rock on Wednesday, chances are you saw coverage of Apple's new iPad—a half-inch thick slab of aluminum and glass that, in Apple's words, fills a niche between small mobile devices (like an iPhone) and a full-sized notebook. With built in wireless (via WiFi or, in some models, 3G) and thousands of apps ready to install (thanks to it's ability to run iPhone and iPod Touch applications from the App Store), the device has the potential to transform—or create new—markets and industries.

Like any new technology, it's our responsibility as an agency to assess the impact that it may have on our clients' business and to think about business-relevant ways to leverage it. iPad, though only about 48 hours old and not available for at least 60 days, is already having quite an impact on the health and wellness sector, with several ideas for its use emerging across the web and blogosphere.

Obvious potential exists with the sales force (at least, while there are still sales reps out in the field). Most pharma companies have shifted to digital promotion via Tablet PC, and detailing on Apple's new device seems like a logical (although potentially expensive) extension. Features like location awareness, always-on connectivity, long battery life and a light-weight form factor surpass most hardware that is deployed today, but it's missing key pieces on the software side of the equation, like CRM integration, interaction measurement, and fulfillment.

Digitizing the physician's office and hospitals is another huge market. Companies like Phreesia have focused on waiting rooms, using their devices for patient intake, triage and payment collection, but compared to the rich video playback capabilities of iPad and it's ability to run other applications (for example, symptom assessment tools, patient education content, etc...), this area seems ripe for new ideas. Then there are electronic health records and the potential to transform how patient data is captured and displayed (look at how the New York Times was able to replicate the essence of flipping through the paper version of the news...now imagine the manilla folder your doctor uses to keep your patient record).

We find wellness beyond the doctor's office—in real places like retail environments, gyms, and museums, and virtual ones like social networks—and iPad can, and will, find a home in these environments too. Will it be revolutionary? Or just a lot of experimentation in search of a purpose? Time will tell.

Innovation happens when there are unmet (or unknown) needs in the marketplace and someone has the willingness, time, money, and creativity to fill those needs. For all the features and services that iPad doesn't have, it DOES provide a new platform for marketers to innovate. For those who are adept at identifying new opportunities, seizing them before competitors, and delivering beyond the expectations of their people, this is the device they've been waiting for.


What’s the Value of Wellness?

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We’ll be writing a lot about this subject in the coming weeks, as we address the financial opportunity that exists in giving your brand (or business) a purpose in the lives of consumers when it comes to their own health & wellness choices.

The New York Times reported a few weeks ago that 75% of the $2.5 trillion spent in healthcare in the US today is directed at four chronic diseases:
Type 2 Diabetes
Heart Disease

While all of these may have hereditary sources, there is no doubt that personal lifestyle choices play a significant factor in all of them. And if you drill down into the numbers, the scale and impact of the way things are currently going is startling: it is projected that the percentage of Americans who meet the criteria of “obese” will more than double in the next eight years – rising from 9% today to 20% in 2018. However, if the percentage of “obese” Americans fell to 1987 levels, the amount of healthcare costs that would be freed up would be enough to cover all of our nation’s uninsured.

Think about it: if we could simply address the obesity issue and help Americans make healthier choices that would take this endemic to the levels of 22 years ago, much of the financial strain of the healthcare crisis evaporates.

But what’s the real value of wellness to your own brand or business?

IBM reported that its investment in health & wellness initiatives, of about $80 million over the past several years, has yielded the company an estimated $190 million in savings (a combination of healthcare savings and less ‘lost time’ due to illness leaves or missed days). The same New York Times story profiled a company called “The Full Yield”, which helps companies and people improve their own health & well being by putting food at the heart of their personal healthcare. Diet makes a difference – doctors have noted that changing diets can help undo the symptoms of even severe heart disease, with one physician noting that they had seen improved blood flow in some patients within one month of making the change.

We have an opinion at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness that people want to feel better, and that ‘wellness’ represents – on an intensely personal level – the same sort of sea change that greening and the environment represents on a macro-economic scale. Consumers attach value to feeling better – and will pay for it (and we believe, in the future, increasingly insist that brands deliver on this front). In the case of IBM, it represented ‘found money’ – and in the case of some other brands, wellness represents new growth. What’s the potential value of wellness for your brand?


When People Care, They Go Social

>> Thursday, January 14, 2010

It’s an old truism that people band together in times of grief. And the response to the disaster in Haiti is showing that is more true than ever, helped by the technology of social media.

Just look at the numbers: as Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable, reported today on CNN.com:

“As of midday Thursday, the Red Cross had raised some $3 million in donations via its text message campaign: Text "Haiti" to 90999, and a $10 donation is added to your cell phone bill. The mechanism is so wonderfully simple -- removing credit cards and PayPal accounts from the equation entirely -- that donations have flooded in. Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti, meanwhile, is leveraging the same technology: Text "YELE" to 501501 to make a $5 donation.”

On Twitter, @RedCross is keeping donors and potential donors updated, while celebrities like @Alyssa Milano are sending out “Tweet Challenges” for matching donations.

On Facebook, over 91,000 people have joined the group “EVERY PERSON THAT JOINS WE WILL DONATE $1 TO HELP PEOPLE IN HAITI!.”

What’s also key is the interaction of mainstream and social media. While every news channel this morning reported from the ground in Port-Au-Prince, they also promoted text/donation options – far more than even the 800 number or web options, which until recently, were the most efficient ways to give .

Media working in concert to bring people together: now that’s social.

By the way, if you’re still thinking about a donation, check out this page at cnn.com for a list of fundraisers.

Hoping this finds you well,



Using Tide = Better Closet Shopping!

>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What matters more? Getting out those pesky stains -- or making your clothes last longer? P&G has invested in a clever new campaign for Tide (developed with, among others, our friends at Saatchi & Saatchi) that goes right to the heart of a key insight: it matters less what a product can do (remove stains) than what it can do for you (lets you keep wearing your clothes longer).

In our 2009 survey on Wellness & the Economy, consumers told us they were shopping less, especially for clothes, as one way to maintain their financial well-being. On the flip side, closet shopping is up!

The folks on Team Tide clearly understood these sentiments, creating a message that speaks right to the wellness zeitgeist: you can feel good about saving money on new clothes – and love the clothes you have even more. There’s even a different kind of value proposition: buying Tide is a smarter economic decision because it helps you hang on to what you have.

Thanks to Tide for showing that loving the (clean) clothes you’re in is another way to express wellness!

Here’s hoping you’re well,



Men Are Beautiful, Too!

>> Friday, January 8, 2010

By now you’ve surely heard about Dove’s Superbowl entry for their new Men&Care line. Commentators don’t seem to expect a ‘real beauty” campaign for men -- though I don’t see why not! – but I think there’s something truly wonderful about the Dove’s choice to market traditional “beauty”-type products to what used to be called the sterner sex. (As opposed to the ladies, who were known as the “gentler” sex – ha!).

As we evolve both personally and culturally, it only seems fair to allow men the cultural freedom to enjoy, and improve, their appearance.

One of our three main watchwords for the year is Reinvention – so it’s right on trend for Dove to help normal guys across the country reinvent their morning and evening skincare routines. (Or for some, let’s just say, “invent” their routines.) While men's luxury skincare brands have been around for some time, Dove has put themselves at the forefront of a potential mainstream movement.

Wellness this year also means taking responsibility for improving your life in whatever ways are most meaningful to you. So for all you guys out there who’ve been longing for softer, smoother skin, the field is yours.

Hope this finds you well!



A Late Christmas Gift

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So many brands today compete in commoditized industries, forced to fight tooth and nail with each other for every customer as they tout similar product features and benefits. Nowhere is this more visible than in the mobile phone industry where prices, apps, and coverage maps are the ammo used to fight the competition.

Customers are fickle, and the only thing keeping them from switching providers are exclusive phones and early termination clauses. It's rare to see these brands demonstrate true value or customer-centricity, and why should they when they have these virtual nooses around their customers' necks? Which is what makes my recent experience with T-Mobile even more remarkable.

Over the past few weeks, my BlackBerry had been crashing unexpectedly and on Christmas it did it again, although this time it wouldn't start up anymore (I was greeted by a perpetual hourglass of death). The next day I went to a local T-Mobile store and found out that the 1 year warranty expired two days prior (of course). My last hope: a phone call to Customer Care.

After explaining the situation (and politely reminding the very nice representative that I've been a happy and loyal customer for the past 7 years) T-Mobile did the right thing. They put the customer first and honored the warranty.

But the representative I spoke with didn't stop there. Because I needed to renew my service agreement, she was able to switch me to one of their new "unlimited" plans, saving me money each month. She wasn't just going to fix or replace my old phone, but offered me a brand new device (any one, my choice). Oh, and they'll ship that to me priority service at no charge (after all, it's the holidays and I don't have a phone). And while we're at it, Mr. Martino, the next month is on us. Wow. It really was Christmas on the 26th.

Besides being overjoyed at how lucky I was (after all, the other way this could have gone down ended with me spending several hundred dollars on a new phone), I kept asking myself if other companies would have gone this far. Would AT&T value me as a long time customer the same way? Would Verizon have honored my warranty, even though it expired (I happen to know from past experience that they would not have)?

Commoditized plans and services come and go. Sexy (and exclusive) new phones are always being introduced. But putting a premium on customer service and delivering on it when it matters? That's a rare trait that sets one brand apart from the others and it's why I'll be loyal to T-Mobile for a long time.


What Was Your New Year’s Resolution?

>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It’s only the first week of January … but it already feels like we’re deep into the year! Hard to believe that only a few days ago, most of us were thinking about what the year would bring … and what we want to do better, or more of, or less of, in the next twelve months.

Speaking for myself, my resolution to go to the gym every day is already suffering. And I don’t even want to admit to everything else I said I’d do! If that sounds anything like what you’re going through, here’s a tip from author Jonah Lehrer that ran in last week's Wall Street Journal: don’t tackle every good idea at once – instead, spread out your resolutions over the whole year.

Why? The part of the brain responsible for willpower – the pre-frontal cortex – has a lot of other jobs to do. As Jonah writes, “scientists have discovered that this chunk of cortex is also in charge of keeping us focused, handling short-term memory and solving abstract problems. Asking it to lose weight is often asking it to do one thing too many.”

But all is not lost. The trick may be to focus on one thing at a time. In one experiment, focusing on improved posture for two weeks led to more self-control in other areas.

So this New Year, I’m resolved to make the whole year about renewal – one gym date at a time.

Hope this finds you well!



Delayed but Undeterred

>> Monday, January 4, 2010

Flying back to New York on New Year's Day, we arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport with kids & bags, ready for a not-so-long winter's nap on the flight to JFK. We had everything figured out perfectly: a full day of sun & pool & food for kids to have them asleep shortly after we pushed back from the gate. As soon as we got out of the car, we realized even the best laid plans get waylaid.

"Sir, your flight has been delayed. The new departure time is in 4 1/2 hours, at 3AM."

There's a saying that when you take a vacation, 'they get you back' -- which usually means you get gang-tackled the moment you get back to the office, or find you pipes have burst when you return home, or whatever. But I don't think I've ever received the 'retribution' as early as the flight home.

But what happened next was very interesting. We flew JetBlue because the price was right, but really because the television screens keep the kids quiet & occupied on the flight. And all of us like their service experience. At that hour at the Phoenix airport, everything was closed -- even the cleaning people had been & left (as I found out when I walked face first into a glass wall that was so clean I couldn't see it, the only thing blocking me from the latest issue of Vanity Fair and bottled water). With nothing to do in the terminal, we headed towards the gate in the event that if we all fell asleep, some good samaritan would wake us up before the plane left the gate.

But JetBlue had it figured out. They had cookies & sodas & waters for the people who hadn't made the stores before they closed. Free wireless access kept the computers powered on the both kids occupied as the hours dragged on (my wife Teresa was more tired than occupied and slept on the floor like a college student out of money traveling Europe). And they kept everyone informed of where the incoming aircraft was and what they were doing to expedite the turn-around and departure.

In the end, JetBlue turned the flight around in record time, welcomed the incoming passengers with good humor (and free movies and drinks for anyone who could keep their eyes open) and we left 30 minutes earlier than expected (2:30AM! a miracle!) and lifted off eastward to JFK.

On the flight to Arizona a week earlier we had arrived an hour ahead of schedule. Upon pulling up to the gate, the pilot said "Happy we got you here this early, and we hope you'll remember this the next time we're late." We won't forget the hassle of being stuck, but we will remember how the JetBlue service experience was carried over into a terminal even when they had a plane full of passengers waiting until the wee small hours of the morning to get home. I'm going to guess that experience will inspire more loyalty among the crowd left waiting than defectors.

Be well -- Ned.