Mission: This May, helping health brands matter

by Caroline Asbaty

As marketers, we continually strive to break through and be relevant to our audience, with a specific purpose and end goal. A typical formula to achieve this is to craft a compelling story arc that follows the expected cadence: create need, introduce tension, resolve, give reasons to believe, and call to action. But one cannot simply fill in these blanks and expect success at the level today’s competitive environment demands. So what is the extra layer, or X factor, that can be the difference in a brand’s success? We must make our brands matter. One way to do this is through emotional connection. Business with feeling.

As May marks stroke awareness month, a campaign with particular relevance comes to mind—a DTC campaign intended to drive human behavior change in the stroke category. Its purpose is to create urgency where there is currently indifference. To be successful, this campaign must make urgency matter to people for whom in many cases stroke isn’t even on their radar. To be the catalyst for change, this message must creep into the conscious awareness of public minds . . .

One cannot simply fill in these blanks and expect success at the level today’s competitive environment demands.

So wouldn’t it make sense then to create this importance by educating through stroke facts and directions around specific actions to take if stroke is suspected? Logically this makes sense—like a mathematical equation: if X, then Y.

But when it comes to something as serious and complex as stroke, we’ve found that information alone—cold data, supported facts, all things objective—will not create enough urgency. Stroke is a complex and multitiered topic. Efforts that only leverage a rational approach have shown some impact, but we need more to really make it matter.

People have to not only learn it but feel it.

People have to not only learn it but feel it. They must be theoretically immersed in a moment—a split second where a loved one may be fine but then on the cusp of a life-threatening stroke event. We must establish a reason beyond profit, an existence outside of the margins. This is easier said than done in today’s world of social media and real-time business. Facts alone are not enough. We must tug at heart strings and evoke something that transcends words and verbal articulation. And while the emotional connection and impetus to act may manifest differently for an adult daughter than it does for the aging wife of an elderly man who has already had 2 heart attacks, the essence is the same—we must evoke that unspeakable feeling within our audience where there is no question that the risk of stroke is real, it exists, and urgent action is the only answer.

When it comes to an intricate subject like this, emotional nuance can be that X factor that is so critical to motivating people to action and to achieving the necessary impact and results. This particular campaign showcases elements such as breathtaking human imagery, hard and provocative questions posed within copy, and content with meaningful personal stories. These have served to arrest the audience at a poignant level. Once hooked, pertinent information around stroke is provided—but that more rational content cannot be served up alone.

Emotional campaigns are more effective on almost all business metrics, especially long term.1

This is only one example. Emotional campaigns are more effective on almost all business metrics, especially long term.1 Sales, market share, loyalty, and even new customers all see larger impact from emotional campaigns. To matter, we must strike just the right balance of rational information with emotional impact. This of course must be tempered by what feels right to a given campaign—and tailored accordingly. When it comes to stroke, it is not just about prevalence, risk factors, and education—it also entails concern, fear, and even empowerment.

Helping people take action to save the lives of those they care about—now there is something that matters.

1Source: Les Binet and Peter Field, The Long and the Short of It, IPA, (Figures 44, 53, 54).