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“Dear 16-year-old Me”: How to Successfully Market a Health Issue Online

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The above video, “Dear 16-year-old Me,” touches on an area of Interactive and E-Communication that we have not delved into in class, but is a perfect example of how E-Communication practices can be used in my degree, the Health Communication arena. A viral advertisement for a health issue is an interesting perspective, as the ultimate goal is not to sell a product or make money, but rather to make people aware and to save lives—not quite as measurable or provocative. Plus, as we have learned, what motivates most people to become interested in something is “What’s in it for me?” With a health issue, this question often ends up being unanswered, or answered with something that people don’t want to hear. Selling a healthy behavior is much harder than selling a fun, shiny, or pretty product.

This particular health video is about melanoma, or skin cancer, and tells the story of several skin cancer survivors, developed by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. The theme of the ad is “Dear 16-year-old me,” where the people in the video urge their 16-year-old selves to check themselves for irregular moles. The video starts out with humor, goes into personal and real stories, and concludes by pulling on your heartstrings and informing people why this message is so important. It ends positively, with a message of prevention, and to empower people, young and old, to prevent this cancer in themselves and others.

This simple yet impactful messaging and imagery allows for people to get through the full five-minute video. Try getting people to watch a five-minute commercial! But this video works. You want to hear all of the people’s full stories. And it does well to inspire you to share the video and check yourself for irregular moles, which is good, because that is exactly what the conversion for this marketing strategy is: share the video and check for abnormal moles. The conversion is obvious and outward—the individuals in it are telling the viewer what they want them to do. The video asks the viewer to check for moles, saying, “Don’t be scared. I want you to be aware. Start checking your skin. Please check. Get to know your skin.” The video also urges people to share it by saying, “If you’re watching this, send this to a 16-year-old you care about. Send it to anyone who was once 16 or soon will be 16. Share this link. Tweet this link. Post this to your Facebook.”

The video looks to be a great success, and has done well to accomplish the goal of video sharing across social media. The video on YouTube has reached 3,317,831 views (while the Spanish language version has reached nearly 757,000 views and the French version has almost 46,000 views). After seeing the video, I felt inspired to share it (as us health communicators like to do), so I posted it on Facebook, and within 3 minutes a friend had shared the video on her own Facebook page. By the end of the night, 8 of my friends had shared the video on their Facebook page, while the video on my page had several “likes” and comments, indicating those people had indeed watched it. Just by this one incidence alone, the video reached potentially hundreds of people through sharing on social media. Who knows how far the sharing went, or how many friends of mine or others watched the video. But by simply copying the YouTube link onto my Facebook, it reached dozens of people who watched it and felt impacted by it. The goal was reached: sharing the message on social media.

The Fund also uses other good E-Communication practices, as the link to the website on the YouTube page and video leads to a “tools” page, where users can download cards that tell them how to check their bodies for irregular moles and how to tell when a mole is dangerous or not. Since the point of the video is to increase people’s checking of moles, it is smart that the link leads the viewer not to the home page, but to useful tools that relate to what the viewer just watched in the video. This increases the chances for conversion. Additionally, the Fund’s website links to their Facebook and Twitter pages, allowing for more access and reach.

This video is an online health communication project that is successful and should be modeled after for various different health issues. It proves that you can use just online marketing, a simple video, to reach your audience, gain conversion, and make a difference.

And if you haven’t watched the video yet, after all of my encouragement in this blog post, you really should. And if you want to make a difference, share the video, tweet the video, or post the video to your Facebook. It just might save a life.

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No Women Allowed? Be Careful What You Wish For!

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Is it smart to completely ignore, and perhaps even offend, exactly half of your available target audience? Well, apparently Dr. Pepper thinks so. The marketing team behind the delicious soft drink has recently launched a campaign for their new Dr. Pepper Ten, which has only ten calories and two grams of sugar. The Dr. Pepper Ten marketing campaign includes a commercial showing manly men in the jungle battling snakes and guns shooting at them. The commercial ends with the slogan “It’s not for women.” The new can is gunmetal grey with silver bullets. It is clear that Dr. Pepper is trying to target men with their new version of a diet drink, as men are less likely to drink diet soda. A USA Today article I read said that Dr. Pepper’s research showed that men do not drink diet drinks that are perceived as not “manly” enough. Dr. Pepper is trying to prove that this particular diet drink is not your traditional diet soda, not only because it still contains real sugar and calories, but also by saying that it is manly and not for women. Dr. Pepper has gone so far as to make their Dr. Pepper Ten Facebook page for men only, where there literally is an application on the page that excludes women from viewing its content. The Facebook page includes games, videos, and quizzes for men, including one game where you can shoot at objects such as lipstick and high heels. I understand their rational for this idea of the drink being for men, but it seems foolish to me to completely alienate, and actually make fun of, half of your audience. To purposely shun women seems a bit unnecessary.  As a person who loves Dr. Pepper, I was put off by this tactic, and it actually made me NOT want to try Dr. Pepper Ten. As a lover of the beverage, I normally would have given Dr. Pepper Ten a shot, being curious of how closely it tasted to the original. However, with the ad being so unnecessarily and blatantly against women, I not only do not have the desire to buy Dr. Pepper Ten, I am also a little mad at the makers of my favorite drink. Apparently I am not the only one. Dr. Pepper seems to be getting a bit of backlash. The campaign is proving controversial, as many articles have been written about the new ads and several negative commentaries have been posted (including YouTube spoofs). There is also a Facebook group called “Boycott Dr. Pepper Ten,” with many women posting how the commercial “insulted” them.

Now, are women just being a little too sensitive about a commercial and Facebook page? Perhaps. I mean, the commercial is overtly silly and campy, obviously meant to be comedic. After all, the man in it punches a snake. And do I really care that I cannot enter the Dr. Pepper Ten Facebook page? No, not really. I could see this as just a fun and entertaining way to say, “Hey guys, listen. I know diet drinks have traditionally been for women, but Dr. Pepper Ten tastes delicious and is just as much for men as it is for women.” I can see where they are trying to go for this, and part of me thinks that I should just laugh along with it. However, I also wonder why they could not have just said it in a less annoying and exclusive way.  And is it worth it to purposefully exclude women? I say it is not, if it is stirring controversy and “insulting” women. Advertising should try to target the new audience, should be funny, and should take things from a new angle; however, it should not do so by alienating half of its audience, offending people, or being able to be misconstrued. In my opinion, Dr. Pepper should have been a little smarter about this…and should have gone in a different direction, targeting men, while also inviting women (probably what would have been the primary consumer of Dr. Pepper Ten) along for the ride.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go drink an original Dr. Pepper out of its burgundy and bubbly can.

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Am I Scared of Online Advertisements?

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

This past week’s lecture about search engine optimization, and more specifically Google Ads, got me thinking about my own behavior as a consumer when it comes to online advertisements. As I was sitting in class, hearing the benefits of using Google Ads, I could not help but think of my own usage of Google search results and advertisements.  I am, for the most part, one to completely ignore or disregard online ads, to the point where I do not even notice them anymore. Most notably, I have become immune to Google’s sponsored advertisements. No matter what I am looking for on Google, I never, I mean absolutely never, give the sponsored advertisements any of my attention. I do not think I have ever even clicked on a sponsored ad. As a consumer, I do not see my Google use as a “consumer seeking a product,” but rather as an individual seeking information. Thus, even if I am Googling “purchasing boots online,” which inevitably is going to take me to some online store or product, I would still never click on the sponsored advertisement. I would most likely go to the organic searches and sift through the first couple of search results there. Am I the only one who is ignoring the sponsored ads? Have a developed an unnatural fear towards sponsored advertisements? Or, is it a waste for companies to market to me through the sponsored ads? Should they be solely trying to get to the top of my organic search results? I am sure that I am not alone in this distaste and complete disregard for paid advertisements, and therefore wonder if it is more valuable for a company to get their website to the top of my search results rather than in the prime spot for sponsored advertisements.

My unwillingness to click on paid advertisement does not only cover Google ads, but extends beyond to all online advertisements. I have developed a fear of clicking on advertisements, worrying that if I do so, I will later be bogged down with spam or tormented by their ads on every website I visit. This, I realize, is an irrational fear, and one that is dissipating while taking this class. But still, ads on my Facebook page remain a primary “no click” zone, where I feel something “bad” may happen to my computer, internet use, or Facebook page if I dare click.

However, I have discovered recently that there is some discretion in this area. The other day I saw an advertisement for the Museum of Fine Arts’ new contemporary art wing. Having had my interest peaked after seeing advertisements on the MBTA, I clicked on the MFA Facebook ad, trying to find out more information about the new wing’s content. Looking back on it, I wonder what made me trust the MFA’s advertisements over the dozens of other repetitive ads on my Facebook page. I think it is because I view the MFA as a legitimate and trustworthy source, unlike the other products and companies that I am unfamiliar with on my Facebook page. To me, the MFA as a respectable institution that I trust, know, and like. This indeed makes all the difference.

For instance, if I saw an online advertisement from Target, one of my favorite stores, that promised a $5 off coupon if I clicked on it, I would definitely follow the ad. I not only love Target (and could greatly use $5 off there), but I have been going to that store for most of my life and trust their customer service. They have never done me wrong. However, if Filene’s Basement, a place I have never shopped before, had the same type of advertisement, I would be reluctant to click on it. Therefore, I surmise that the familiarity, trust, and relationship a consumer has with a product or company can make a difference in receptivity to advertising.

Categories: Uncategorized