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Real Health Advertising

Posted Oct 17 2008 9:10pm
Direct-to-Consumer marketing has its benefitsOver the years, I've been on all sides of health care, including a stint directing the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative (PMHI). In this role, I worked to leverage the knowledge, assets and resources of a Fortune 10 company to advantage the broader interests of health consumers and the professionals who cared for them. My goal was to advance humanistic and scientific health care side by side, and to move all of us (including Pfizer) together toward strategic health planning and preventive health care. My reasoning was that as citizens and their care givers reached their full potential, so would the company.

During my time with PMHI, I encountered a broad range of issues and created a range of programs targeted at the patient-physician relationship. One area of controversy was Direct-To-Consumer advertising, which I supported. My reasoning was that this programming was fully funded, contributed some useful information, and generally encouraged people to see their doctor and integrate with the system early rather than late.

There was then, and remains today, tremendous potential to use such ads to move us together in the direction of health. To illustrate the point, I’d like to share with you two ads produced by Kaiser Permanente, the latest released for airing during the Summer Olympics. Both of these ads can be viewed by watching this week’s video, embedded with this blog, or clicking the links below.

The first one is titled "When I Grow Up, I Want To Be an Old Woman,"   which conveys a strong message about enjoying rich and fulfilling lives as we age.

The second clearly promotes Kaiser Permanente and there is nothing wrong with that. But it's much more. It's a value statement for U.S. health care. In Kaiser Permanente’s vision, "Good health is for everyone" and the concept of health is broad enough to encompass clean air, healthy food, and committed communities:

So I have a suggestion for PhRMA and its member companies: How about committing 25% of the Direct-to-Consumer advertising budget for Health public service announcements? That would be a great contribution to preventive health reform, and lead to earlier diagnosis and better adherence to treatment plan, which would benefit the bottom line.

See Also

  • Kaiser Permanente
    In addition to information about its health plans, Kaiser's website offers health and wellness resources for its members.
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