Making Healthcare Awareness Campaigns memorable

In these austere times, few things cost our nation more than healthcare.  It’s been rising steadily for the last decade, and even an economic crisis won’t stop it eating up 7% of GDP next year (Source: Office for National Statistics)With a number of expensive conditions to treat (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis to name a few) being at least partially linked to exercise, weight control, nutrition and smoking cessation, it’s understandable why recent Government has focused on self-management and disease awareness to try and prevent the cost of healthcare from growing still further. The NHS worked out long ago that putting information leaflets in GP surgeries and public libraries was only going to reach a small audience, often heavily skewed into certain socio-economic and cultural profiles. For years now, healthcare awareness has been extending into shopping centres, football grounds and of course, schools. But equally significant, in terms of effectiveness at least, is that 2-dimensional media is static and….well boring frankly, especially to younger age groups more familiar with social media and 3-D gaming as a source of information and entertainment. Enter viral marketing. It starts as a simple live event, touching a small crowd of onlookers, but is built for viewership via e-mail, text messaging, podcasts, blogs, forums, Twitter and beyond. Next thing you know, it’s a hit YouTube video or Facebook group, and your brand awareness is off and running. Perhaps the best example of this in the UK was T-Mobile’s idea to encourage people to send video-messages and think of their phone as a device to share experience highlights.  From this concept, the T-Mobile flashmob-dance at Liverpool St station was born (find the link to that fab video at the bottom) Eighteen months later, it’s now clocked up 22m views on Youtube, spawned a whole series of other events, and of course made thousands of people discover how easy it is to send photos and videos by mobile phone. Viral marketing doesn’t have to be quite so staged. The key point is that it’s designed to be easily communicable, and to live on and multiply after the initial event or activity as happened. In a healthcare context, my favourite viral marketing website is the outstanding work of Rethink – the Canadian breast cancer charity built to bring bold and relevant awareness to the under-40 crowd. Their media activity can be provocative for some and entertaining for many. The bottom line is that Rethink events (esp. the BoobyBall) have become so popular that they have become a major source of fundraising, and have made getting involved in charity work such a fun, cool thing to do and support. It’s time more of the healthcare industry started borrowing from faster-moving industries, by getting fun and imaginative concepts noticed and remembered - in front of people in real-time, in places where they gather to have fun. Check out their fundraising site

HealthcareRick HarrisComment