‘Wellness’ Becomes You, New York Times Magazine

>> Monday, April 19, 2010

If you’ve ever been to Mill Valley, CA – better yet, if you were in Mill Valley, CA in the ‘70’s – you understand why the concept of ‘Wellness’ found its origin in this Northern California town, located in an appropriately idyllic spot between the Golden Gate Bridge and Stinson Beach. (That's a local farmer's market on the left.)

Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine was dedicated to ‘Wellness’(a sure sign that a trend is moving to a more permanent position in popular culture), and in the “On Language” column Ben Zimmer traces the present definition of Wellness to the Wellness Resource Center that opened in Mill Valley in 1975.

I started going to Mill Valley as a kid, but I recall vividly what the place was like at that time. What I saw was different than the stereotypical Left Coast lifestyle of ‘Shampoo’ fame – people jogged (before Nike), people were vegan (before vegan was a term), and people wore sun block (this is when SPF4 was considered strong because it had more protection than baby oil). People also were not smoking, eating organic (grown by Buddhist monks living in Marin no less!), meditating at the Yoga Center, dabbling in acupuncture (needles!) and were generally positive about taking proactive measures to live better – versus waiting for illness to strike and then taking action, as was the conventional wisdom of the day.

Wellness in this regard was uncommon, the kind of wacky things people lucky enough to live in Mill Valley just do. But with yesterday’s New York Times, these Mill Valley residents are like the Jobs of their day (Steve Jobs that is). They started something that the rest of the world now understands, and it is a legitimate platform for much more than basic health. Yesterday’s Magazine addressed aspects of Wellness such as Marriage (is it good for your health?), Desire (what is the anatomy of desire), Exercise (it may not have as direct of a correlation with weight loss, but it helps with lots of other things), and of course included a feature on the current Wellness uber-spokesperson, Dr. Oz.

I believe what may be most interesting about yesterday’s New York Times Magazine is how all-encompassing ‘Wellness’ is and how strongly it resonates with consumers today (relationships to food to desire to aging, and so on). The topics are intensely personal to consumers – in a very positive way – and clearly offer marketers the opportunity to make closer connections, and achieve better economic results. And it’s why Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness has the momentum it does – our mission speaks to a truth in how people are living today that powers brands & businesses to new levels.

So Wellness got noticed in a nice way yesterday, and in a way it added more velocity to our own professional journey. But who knew it all started in Mill Valley?

Be well –



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