business news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting piece in the Los Angeles Times about how, over the past year and a half, “the federal government, health advocates and private companies have begun to merge their efforts against fat and inactivity. The Department of Health and Human Services has turned to a top Madison Avenue advertising firm and a leading Internet design company to create the Small Steps campaign. Media companies are rethinking their long-standing practice of marketing junk food to kids. And health advocacy organizations such as the American Heart Assn. are forming partnerships with companies willing to spread their message to a seen-it-all, heard-it-all American public.”

These aren’t your father’s public service announcements. “Today,” the Times reports, “campaigns to prevent HIV and AIDS, discourage smoking, fight obesity and urge cancer screenings use humor, sex and sophisticated market research. Public health advocates segment their markets and tailor their pitches to the sensibilities and media consumption habits of particular groups — preschoolers, teens, Latinos, African Americans, parents of school-age kids. They push fitness and health using one of the advertising profession's oldest principles: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

“These new campaigns offer encouragement by instant message, downloadable cellphone games with disease-prevention ideas, reality shows, websites with attitude and information, and potty humor for kids.”
KC's View:
In other words, the goal isn’t just to use language that the average person can understand, but choose communications vehicles appropriate to specific target groups and then hit them with relevant, cool messages that are light and non-judgmental.

Seems to us that retailers looking to create relevant marketing programs need to keep these kinds of changes in mind as they develop programs for 2006 and beyond. Traditional methods of communicating – freestanding inserts, in-aisle signage, coupons, etc… - may simply be irrelevant for the next generation of shoppers.