Health is marketable wealth
There is an old saying that goes; 'God made man. Man made money, money made man go mad.' A very appropriate saying and one that holds true. Support this saying with another that goes; 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.' Interesting isn’t it? The wise man eons ago crafted these sayings with a vision of what was anticipated in the future. The future is here; it is in the now and yet we are oblivion to it! Keep these sayings at the back of your mind as we go through recent campaigns addressing health issues and reported by the trend's further below.
We have been so busy working and marketing everything possible to each other, knowingly or unknowingly not with a care of the repercussion our health takes in the process. The only happy campers would be the medical field as medicines continue to be designed, produced and marketed to deal with man made illnesses. This may be boring for those who fall prey to it, but in our marketing world, we love just being creative about anything. Give us an idea and we will roll a sausage in cornflakes, dipped in ice-cream and market it as a coffee popsicle.
The creativity that is out there in the more advanced Countries is mind-boggling and deserves accolades. We in Africa need to steal ideas shamelessly and see what can help us. After all, we are one human race and all living in the very same planet, making us neighbours and relatives of sorts.
Let us start with simple things. We know malaria is a killer disease in Africa, yet we continue to promote and market use-age of treated nets and once in a while a coil or mosi repellent. While in places like Sri Lanka, the marketing and new product development team sat down and ideated on the big concern; Dengue contracted by commuters who are bitten by the Dengue mosquitoes. To raise awareness during the National dengue week, the daily newspaper in SriLanka published a one-off newspaper using a bug-repellent ink after researching and realizing that the most of the target read the papers in the morning and evening. This one off print, sold out in 4 hours!! Has the WHO considered this as a marketable tool? Perhaps not! It would be great to find out from the trenders what the after results were in terms of future possibilities in other areas.
Apart from amazing creativity and a passionate marketing team, we must admit that if there is no money, then there is no honey (the honey here being the opportunity to execute these ideas). In the process we continue to run around like headless chicken putting more money (that we don’t have) down the drain to handle issues that we really could have controlled. As a race, we need to reach a stage where we are ill free and can live a healthy life, not a life that keeps us confused, like a hamster on a treadmill.
A recent example that shocked the world was of the ever happy, smiling Mrs Doubtfire aka Robin Williams who was robbed of his life due to depression. Depression is never seen as a life threatening issue, when actually it is and even more so when a man has it. After all we know a man equals being Macho. Perhaps this is the reason that months back in the UK, a charity launched an initiative to address the cultural barrier that prevents men from asking for help when they are depressed or feeling low. The initiative coined CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) was targeting the male suicide prone and used posters and the hashtag #mandictionary to communicate new ways to address issues. Another fantastic idea dealing with a health issue faced by many in this fast paced world.
See, the irony is that we are always ready to help each other in many ways then in the true human way. Blood donation used to be a no issue in the past. We would all go willing and donate without bothering about who would receive the blood and what was done with it. Today with the fear of HIV and then Ebola plus cancer, the blood banks must be on a low level. Now who would have thought that a country like Azerbaijan (yes it is a Country) and that too a mobile network company would be the initiator of a health awareness campaign to promote the need to donate blood. How more creative can it get than this? A Donor wristband, similar to the rubber friendship bands we wear and some have a flash disk. Well this one is a phone charger on the go, and the idea is for you to use the band to help power up anyone’s phone. Azerbaijan has the highest number of children born with Thalassemia, a blood disorder. The network company used this as a marketing opportunity to push the campaign and for every person who bought an android phone, they were given a band with a message printed reading ‘Donate energy to save a phone and donate blood to save a life’. Something any of our African networks could have thought of?
The trends happening across Continents are worth recognition and every marketer needs to take a leaf and break the barrier of thought. Every creative must know that there is NO box. No box to think out of, no box to move aside. Health agencies need to understand and learn from around the globe that health marketing is an important aspect of social and public awareness. Health brands are human brands. They have a face, an emotion and a far positive reaching effect. Lets get out our pads, pen and paper to craft strategies and ideas that will showcase what we too can do in Africa for the betterment of our citizens health and wealth.