Now that obesity is one of America’s top-of-mind issues brands that make fitness a creative part of their event programs can win mindshare change perception and even help their targets shed a few pounds. Putting some muscle behind your commitment to healthy living isn’t always a walk in the park though.
Tours events and proprietary health programs require extensive planning and ongoing commitment layered on top of an already busy marketing portfolio. Is it worth the trouble? BlueCross BlueShield Pepsi and Subway are among the brands that have leveraged existing marketing assets to marry their messages to the national movement. C’mon people let’s get physical. Five parts to the workout:
1. Hit the Target. Pepsi’s Smart Spot Dance! program is aimed at getting black and Hispanic communities—especially moms—to get up learn some dance moves and lead healthier and more active lives. The seven-city tour which launched in March brings celebrity fitness instructors to YMCAs and community centers for a day of nutritional counseling and upbeat dance instruction.
Pepsi samples beverages snacks and other food items to get exposure for the variety of products that meet its “Smart Spot” nutritional standards. “Smart Spot is on 250 of our products so it gives us a chance to showcase the breadth of our portfolio ” says Patti Doyle senior marketing manager-health and wellness marketing at PepsiCo.
2. Work Inside Out. BlueCross BlueShield made a splash with its first annual National Walk @ Lunch Day on April 18 by leveraging its employee network. In the months leading up to the event the insurance giant reached out to offices in 46 states with a CD-ROM toolkit of promotional materials for local BlueCross BlueShield branches to customize for clients. Materials included posters email invites tabletop cards postcards and company newsletter copy. By the end of the day thousands of employees customers and everyday people across America had hit the streets for a one-hour stroll in the name of health and wellness. The event received so much attention that the company plans to go even bigger next year.
“The goal was to [position] BlueCross BlueShield as a leader in the healthcare industry ” says Terry Keigher the company’s manager-consumer market strategy. “We hope it will be a catalyst to move on to more health and wellness initiatives.”
3. Join Forces. Pulling a partner on board can lend credibility to a fitness-based marketing effort. To reach schoolchildren and their parents and teachers Subway hooked up with Weekly Reader the educational magazine publisher. The sandwich chain developed a kid-targeted program that provides printed and online nutrition and exercise curriculum to schoolteachers and parents. “We hadn’t done much kids’ marketing ” says Michelle Cordial director-brand management at Subway. “We wanted to start doing outreach and we knew one way was to start supporting public schools to help them teach nutrition and lifestyle.”
For its program Pepsi tapped into America on the Move a nonprofit that tries to get people to walk 2 000 steps a day. In conjunction with the Smart Spot Dance! launch the group released a study reporting that dancing doubles the benefits of walking in the same amount of time. “We married the program with a credible and research-backed way to people to get active ” says Doyle.
4. Give Consumers the Tools. As part of the media launch for its new Fresh Fit menu Subway sent 150 brand ambassadors into the streets of Manhattan on branded Trek mountain bikes. One by one the brand reps gave away their bikes to New Yorkers who were walking to work instead of cabbing it or taking the stairs instead of riding an escalator (Agency: Jack Morton Worldwide New York City).
“This [event] was created to start talking about Subway in a bigger context than just diet and weight loss ” says Cordial. “It’s giving influencers the things they need to help influence everybody else.”
5. Get Professional Help. Backing up the program with input or appearances from trained experts can heighten the impact. Pepsi sends dieticians to its dance events. Subway backs up its kids initiative with a web site chock full of educational resources. And BlueCross BlueShield gave lunchtime walkers pedometers and nutrition guides just for taking a stroll. Says Keigher: “We care about our customers and we want to show that we have the tools and resources available to help them engage in physical activity.”