Making Health Fun(ny) in a Viral Age

Do we know how to talk to people about health? I think we still have a lot to learn about how to create fresh and approachable health messaging from professional marketers.

We know that marketing to kids is a real and present health issue. But every once in a while there’s a bit of marketing that makes me smile and want to pass it on. Below are a few that I’ve found engaging or clever.  [This is in no way an endorsement of the products or companies involved, but is acknowledgement of their ability to cut through the clutter.]

This YouTube clip is one that went completely viral – despite the lack of funny cats! It shows a row of stationary bikes on a beautiful Parisian evening in a square. People are intrigued and start to cycle – as they do lights stream from the bikes to the building in front of them. The faster and longer the people pedal – the more they get from this cheeky show! It has already had over 8 million views.

It turns out to be an ad for bottled water, and was created by very clever marketers – but the message for health promotion is clear. If we make our messages more fun and engaging, we will have people do the promoting for us. Wouldn’t we love to reach 8 million people?!

A similar phenomenon happened with a Stockholm subway staircase – advertisers decided to make a point about physical activity and fun. I’m not sure how many times this came through your inbox, but it was on high circulation for a while in mine. It has now reached over 20 million people – hopefully some of them are choosing the stairs.

And let’s not overlook social media – Easter is this weekend and whether you have kids or not, this blog post from the Prime Pursuit shows how to create some healthy treats. Super cute bunny faces made of health fruits and veg, even a hard-boiled egg chick that looks replicable even if you’re not part of the Pinterest crowd. I plan to get my 10 year old on this bunny trail, as she’s looking to get more active in the kitchen, and will give her skills that go beyond icing cookies.

So as health promoters let’s get creative and have some fun! Because every step and bite counts.

Samantha Hartley-Folz
Manager, Knowledge Translation
April 2014

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