Slow Down or Speed Up? Wellness Is About Having the Choice

>> Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back in December, Nick Sternberg posted a piece on the Organic blog about Slow Media and the larger Slow Movement. For those of you who haven’t heard about Slow Media, I would sum it up as deliberately opting out of the regular use of the technologies that consume much of our time. Cell phones, social media, e-mail, DVR all conspire to create an environment in which we are on all of the time, bombarded constantly by information and at the same time spending less and less time connecting face-to-face or in-depth.

If you’re like me, you’re under the basic assumption that this ongoing transformation is largely out of your control. Technology advances at an ever-faster pace, and you really can’t do anything but roll with it. Relationships are becoming byte-sized and hyper-speed.

Slow Media challenges this assumption. Slow Media opts out. Slow media chooses hand-written letters over e-mail, vinyl over CDs, and face time over Twitter and Facebook.

Personally, there are parts of this ideology that I find appealing, especially when you consider recent evidence about less stress being tied to longevity. However, I’m also thrilled by the immediacy of information that results from the technologies condemned by Slow Media. I love being able to read what hundreds of parents have to say about their experiences with a drug my son was just prescribed. I love that I can get work done (like writing this blog entry) in my pajamas at home. I love that the brilliant speakers at the TED conferences are free to me any time I want them.

In the end, everyone has to find their own balance. But as Nick’s post reminded me, sometimes we lose sight of the fact that finding that balance is up to us. That even the most -- seemingly -- inevitable parts of our lives can be changed if that’s what we decide we need to do.

Sometimes the wellness choices we need to make are choices we didn’t even know we had.

Jacob Braude

VP, Planner


Drawing A Line In The ... Salt

Too much of anything is unhealthy, particularly public measures taken in the name of health.

The news that the Food and Drug Administration is moving to limit the salt allowed in processed food is in my view disturbing, coming as it does on the heels of New York City’s campaign to reduce by 25% the salt content of food products and chain restaurant menus. It’s not that I’m an advocate of potato chips, or hot dogs with 1100 grams of sodium. It’s just that even the best of intentions need more than a sprinkling of clinical rationale.

At first glance, the case against salt couldn’t be more damning. Most American adults consume salt levels that are twice the US recommended limit. Elevated intake of sodium contributes to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and other health problems. A report by the Institute of Medicine claims that a federal effort to reduce salt in what we eat could prevent 100,000 deaths a year. “Limiting sodium might be the single most important thing the FDA can do to promote health,” says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The trouble is that, as John Tierney recently pointed out in the New York Times, the core assumptions of this “Salt Scare” have been seriously challenged in the medical community. An article published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has disputed whether limiting sodium in processed food actually reduces the amount of salt people consume. And in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a leading hypertension expert questioned the evidence that a low-salt diet lowers the incidence of heart attack and stroke.

Generally, where health and lifestyle are concerned, I’m compliantly correct. I take the stairs instead of the escalator. My sex is safe, my diet is low-fat. I get 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables ever day, usually by breakfast time. The last time I had a cigarette, Taft was president.

But this is where I draw the line. Seeking salt is a basic human instinct, and I’m only human. I love salty foods: pickles, olives, lox, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, provolone cheese. Pretzels! If that’s a vice, it’s a vice I plan on indulging, at least until clinical studies crystallize the merits of abstinence.

Lew Alpern

VP, Group Copy Supervisor


NPR, Ford Fiesta, and Other (Surprisngly) Cool Digital Marketers

>> Monday, April 26, 2010

Last week, Associate Creative Director Sergio Flores attended the AdAge Digital Conference. Here are some of the bits, as he says, that raised his eyebrows, made him frown or just put a smile on his face. Heeeeeere's Sergio!

Let me begin by giving you a flavor of the conference with a few soundbites.

“Someone has to take the lead and orchestrate all the agencies”
“Brands are now content providers”
“Agencies need to understand how to create guided experiences”
“Agencies present problems to solve, rather than solutions to fund”
“You can’t play with a TV ad”
“Brands are about behavior, not just big ideas”

If you want more sound bites — check #aadigital on twitter.

And if you want to see great digital creative, ‘speed read’ to the end for some links.

On to the presenters I liked best.

James Farley, Group VP Global Marketing, Ford Motor Company.

For me, this might have been the most interesting presentation, and from a traditional agency perspective, the scariest.

James began by stating that the financial crisis has forced innovation and experimentation. And he’s grateful for that.

His view on the role of marketing? Shrinking the time of discovery of great products. He’s spending 1 out of 4 dollars on digital to do that.

The most impressive part of his presentation was the launch of the Ford Fiesta. The idea came from China, where the vehicle was launched purely on social media. (BTW, the Chinese offer a Brand Protection Package designed to erase negative online commentary. He passed.) But back to the USA, where they launched a car that is not even on sale here yet.

Ford brought over some of their European cars and gave them to Fiesta Agents—a bunch of creative young folk who proceeded to make music videos, songs, and short films about their Fiestas.

  • 6 million views for a car that is not even available for sale yet.
  • Ten thousands pre-launch vehicle reservations.
  • And a customer feedback loop that is helping engineers come up with new ideas that are customer-relevant before they release the cars.

Check it out at

Vivian Schiller, President and CEO—NPR

The digital space is the perfect fit for NPR and their content. They have been happy to discover that there is such a thing as Citizen Journalism. Vivian shared an anecdote that followed the breaking of the Balloon Boy story—a group of physicists started a long thread about the science behind the event which turned out to be not only educational for the audience at large but also a great hit.

She was also giddy about their new app for the iPAd. She has every right to be. It’s pretty cool.

Duncan Watts, Principal Research Scientist, Yahoo!

Mr. Watts managed to make science engaging.

He talked about 1967’s The Small World Experiment, designed by Stanley Millgram to see how people in a large social group are linked together. And how relevant that human behavior is to today’s social media networks.

What I found most interesting though, was another experiment designed to ascertain what makes a musical hit (wouldn’t we all like to know). A web-based experiment—Music Lab—was set up at Columbia University to observe peer influence on musical choices.

It turned out that peer influence (ratings, recommendations, likes, thumbs up, etc) can make a song rise to the top very quickly. However, when they introduced deception by positively rating random songs, people ignored the peer recommendations if the song was deemed a dud.

The insight? A good product can benefit from social media. But on the other hand, a bad product can die a quicker death.

He also mentioned that Kim Kardashian gets $10,000 a tweet. Time to get those buttocks implants.

Brad Jakeman, Chief Creative Officer, Activision Publishing

Call of Duty rocks.

The intro to this presentation was so loud it rattled my brain into submission. I was in awe of whatever Mr Jakeman said.

The launch of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest entertainment launch of all time.It was a collaboration of Hollywood writers, game developers and even the Department of Defense. But here are some shocking and awesome figures.

  • $550M in sales in the first week.
  • It ‘fields’ the largest army in the world.
  • 8 million people play worldwide.

The other interesting fact was that this launch was a departure from the mass media-to-digital model. They launched via a single tweet followed by the online release of one video asset which linked to a TV and Cinema spot. This video was embedded with easter eggs for people to voraciously find and talk about on social media networks, completing a full circle.

And finally… here’s some of the cool work!

BANNER CONCERTS—Actual bands playing in stages designed in the shape of the banner.

HIT THE GAS PEDAL—great banner for VW

FURNITURE ASSEMBLY—Great demo banner


PSA BANNERS—amazing.

NIKE SPORSTWEAR ON THE RUN— rich media from those just-do-it guys.

CHALKBOT—Inspirational messages tweeted then painted BY A ROBOT on the Tour De France circuit.

Sergio Flores

Associate Creative Director


Don't Fade, Fight

Last Thursday Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness was honored with the "Consumer Campaign of the Year" for our work on AstraZeneca's SeroquelXR at the "Manny Awards", one of the pharma industry's premier shows. We're all incredibly proud of this recognition -- and Associate Creative Director Stu Fink tells us how it all came to be. Congratulations to the Seroquel team.

Take it away, Stu.

If you’re an advertising agency attempting to launch a campaign that deals with mental illness, you need far more than a client on the other end of the phone. You need an evangelist. Someone to instill in you a sense of higher purpose. Someone to remind you daily that you can do better. Someone who refuses to settle for anything less than the unvarnished truth.

That's the description of our SeroquelXR clients as AstraZeneca. Over and over again, we listened, as the Seroquel XR brand team preached the gospel of respect and responsibility. It was a lesson we took to heart and the chief reason we fought so hard for 14 months to bring this campaign to life. On Thursday night, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness was awarded the Best Consumer Campaign at The Manny Awards for the Seroquel XR “FADE” campaign.

This campaign, championed from its infancy by Helayne Spivak, was written by Paul Schmidt, and art directed beautifully by Ian Fearn -- that's Ian and Paul in the picture, along with the work and the award. (Full disclosure: I am proud to have been the ACD.) Based on insights brought to life by Jacob Braude, it was, sold, resold and sold again by Jennifer Shirley, Adam Fletcher and Gwen Korbel, and produced with an artist’s touch by Steve Pytko.

But this campaign was truly created by the dozens of men and women living with bipolar depression that we spoke to, listened to and learned from. Their insights, words, and painful admissions led us to our core concept: When you’re living with bipolar depression it can feel like you’re fading into the background. When you’re listening to someone describe what it’s like to be a spectator in their own life, you’re left with no recourse but to fight as hard as you can to respectfully bring their story to life.

At Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, we fight hard everyday to earn our wellness credentials. For us, that means treating the whole person, not merely his or her collection of symptoms. It means educating the mind, before medicating the body. It means offering options, rather than false hope. It means empowering people to ask questions before asking for a prescription.

This campaign represents what we at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness do best. We’re overjoyed that our peers in the advertising community have seen to it to recognize and honor our work. In doing so, you don’t simply honor us; you honor the millions of men and women living with bipolar depression.


Counter Culture: Eating and Wellness in the News

>> Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is it just us, or does it seem that there are a lot more stories about healthy eating lately? What has us scratching our heads, though, are the ads for rather unhealthy foods that are featured right alongside.

We wonder if there's something in the culture right now that's whispering, "do as I say, not as I do."

For instance, from the “You just can’t make this up” file: Slate's wonderful “Daily Bread” column includes a story on FDA plans to limit the amount of salt foods can contain. Smack in the middle of the article is an ad for Papa Joe’s Pizza.

You Really Are What You Eat – declares a story on Shine.Yahoo – Yahoo’s new site for women. You know it’s a great post when it gets over 400 comments! Right next to it? A cupcake. Yup, a cupcake, linking to a site that provides “daily deals” in the city of your choice. Unless they're doing deals on muffin tops?

And we think there's a missed opportunity for marketers offering wellness to parents (or their children): The New York Times' column, “When Kids Eat What They Watch,” where Tara Parker-Pope writes about acceptable food advertising for kids.

What do you think? Have you seen any untapped opportunities like these for marketing wellness? Let us know!

Hope this finds you well.