Friday, October 16, 2009

Americans in denial about their "self-inflicted" maladies?

As we all know, healthcare is a major issue facing our nation today and not only because of its scarcity but also, in my opinion, because of its format. America always seems to be facing problems with healthcare, health insurance – and most importantly (!) – the basic health of its own citizens.

Published back on August 11 of this year, in The Wall Street Journal, was a controversial article from the CEO of one of our nations most beloved and leading grocers – Whole Foods. CEO, John Mackey, wrote this article with an emphasis on eight key points he believes would better aid Americans with healthcare reform than the current plan being enforced through the Obama administration.

The eight points included in the article from Mackey are:


·      Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs)


·      Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits


·      Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines


·      Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover


·      Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year


·      Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost


·      Enact Medicare reform


·      Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program


These eight points were taken directly from the article located at:


Before presenting his eight key tactics to lowering the overall cost of health care for all American citizens, Mackey explains his perception of the current healthcare state. Mackey feels as though the steps that the government are taking in reforming healthcare are not leading in the direction most beneficial for the nation. Contrasting our current deficit in 2009 of a projected $1.8 trillion to that which it could result at in following years – Mackey commences the articles controversy. Claiming that we are “running out of other people’s money” and that as the next 15 years come, Baby Boomers are going to be costing the nation extreme amounts of unfunded…frankly, nonexistent money in healthcare issues, now is a critical time to point out the flaws of the system(s) – and more importantly reform those flaws and take action to enact them.

In my personal opinion, I feel as though the “tipping point” of this article really comes from one critical paragraph included in the article – the paragraph in which Mackey simply explains that Americans would not have as many healthcare problems as they do, and therefore would not need healthcare as much as they currently do – if they were to take better care of themselves and their body’s. This is not to say that some illnesses can in fact still arise even if a person is as healthy as a horse; however, quite frankly the American people are the least healthy in the world.

When Mackey points this out, the issue becomes controversial – it becomes sticky – it becomes the tipping point. People do not want to hear that they are doing something wrong, or even just that they could help themselves more by changing some of their daily behaviors. Therefore, this is what made the issue tip.

Nowhere else in the world is the obesity rate as high as it is in America. Nowhere else do people get less exercise than the average American in America. No where else do children get fed candy bars and soda for a snack at school, like they do in America.

Personally, I really liked the article by Mackey simply because I feel the same way as he does. Perhaps we do not share all of the same political opinions; however, I feel that the political points within the issue are secondary to the more fundamental basic health issues that stem from proper diet and adequate exercise.

People are always comparing our healthcare system to that of the healthcare system in France; Americans want the healthcare assistance that the French have. This is because in France, healthcare is virtually free…and when you need a doctor, the doctor comes to visit you at your house instead of you having to wait hours upon hours in a waiting room…and when you need to abstain from going to work because of a temporary illness, your employer fully acknowledges this and allows absence and continued pay.

On the same note, Americans also want the HEALTH of the French people. Phrases such as: “The French drink a glass of wine every night”, “French women are always so thin”, and “The French eat tons of cheese and pastries” are stereotypical phrases you tend to hear. And they are all true.  The French eat very healthy though and they exercise like there is no tomorrow. They do not automatically run to the doctor for umpteen different prescriptions at the onset of a mild cough or bellyache. Therefore, if people wish to be treated as the French are treated, in healthcare terms, they must first act as the French act.

With all of this said, it is important to note that Mackey was not extremely out-of-line for publishing this article. He is in fact a CEO of a multi-billion dollar health food enterprise. It’s not the guy is not informed on health, diet and exercise issues. The facts that he pointed out and the suggestions he made are definitely debatable to anybody as informed as he. What is not highly debatable though, is the notion that America and its people are not only facing an economic crisis – they are also facing hundreds upon thousands of health crisis.


For more information on both the article published by John Mackey, as well as information on the French healthcare system and lifestyle, visit:


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Big Apple gets "bogged down" with cranberries


The Big Apple gets "bogged down" with cranberries

By: Natalie Vaughn

Most of us have seen the clever Ocean Spray commercials promoting their 100 percent juice cranberry juice. In particular, the commercials with the two cranberry farmers standing in the middle of a cranberry bog while telling the consumer why they should buy their products are especially memorable. They have a knack for getting the viewer’s attention and getting a few laughs in while informing the consumer about where their product comes from. Now Ocean Spray is taking this tactic a step further by bringing the bog to the consumer.

On October 6, Ocean Spray kicked off their “Bogs Across America” events with a real, freestanding “bog” set up in Rockefeller Plaza. The bog also featured the May family who has been harvesting cranberries for three generations.

This event coincides with a new Ocean Spray campaign that focuses on the personal stories of the cranberry growers. New labels on Ocean Spray cranberry products will feature the pictures of the actual growers of the product. This campaign also informs the consumer of another tie they have to the cranberry producer. Many people will be surprised to know that Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative, that is the company is owned by more than 650 cranberry and grapefruit growers in the United States and Canada.

When looking at this case in light of The Tipping Point, it is easy to see that Ocean Spray has found its stickiness factor. They have found a way to personally connect their product to the consumer by opening up and introducing the very people who create the product as if they were our next-door neighbors. Also, many people have become more concerned about where their food is grown and who is growing it. The wholesome family image that Ocean Spray has successfully conveyed eases the minds of picky mothers along with the rest of us.

Photo credit: Sarah Lohman

For more information, please visit:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

wii love nintento

by Ashley Bower
Wii is for Everyone
Nintendo has been demanding presence and leader in the gaming industry. Unfortunately, in recent years the brand began losing it’s momentum until the release of the Nintendo Wii. PR Week stated, “By 2006, Nintendo had dropped to third in the video-game industry behind Sony and Microsoft after dominating the landscape about 20 years earlier.” Now Nintendo is back on top as the industry leader. While other brands were busy racing against one another to introduce the next big expensive high tech graphic games specifically for hardcore gamers, Nintendo opted to develop an inexpensive hand held machine marketed toward all walks of life. John Gaudiosi stated, “The Wii is a pop culture smash of such dimension that Nintendo still can’t make consoles fast enough.”
The Wii campaign began to gather fans before the actual console was introduced. The name alone, garnered attention. Next they spread the message that this game was more about the act of “playing” than the graphics. Nintendo’s idea was to bring games into the active world. Finally, the Wii launch was a positive experience for buyers as stores were adequately stocked.
The tipping point for Nintendo wasn’t simply the introduction of the Wii; it was the public relations campaign “Wii would like to play.” This campaign targeted grandmas, gamers, exercise fanatics, children, bowlers, you name it. Their approach was that Wii is for everyone or as PR Week says “a game for non-gamers.” The Wii ushered a change in how we think about games. Nintendo was focused on only gamers until the Wii was introduced and an epidemic was born.
The stickiness factor, identified by Gladwell, says, “There are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes (p.25).” Nintendo made the message memorable by including everyone not just serious gamers. The Power of Context says, “Human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment then they may seem (29).” Commercials featured families in their homes instead of teenage males inside the world of the alternate universe. Because of the inclusion of all ages and gamer levels, the Wii became accessible to everyone.

Image courtesy of:

Monday, October 5, 2009

'Save the Boobs' Campaign All That Bad?

Although they can arise a chuckle out of me every once in awhile, I am rarely impacted by advertising messages that are centered on sexual inuendo. Not the case with ReThink Breast Cancer’s ‘Save the Boobs’ public service announcement. This video and the strategy behind it had a surprisingly positive effect on me.

This Canada-based organization, which targets men and women under the age of 40 in an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer in younger generations, decided to go a little bolder than your run-of-the-mill public service announcement. The Save the Boobs video featured a large-chested, attractive, bikini-clad woman getting ogled by male onlookers at a pool party. The visuals feature close-ups of the woman’s chest, and even a wet t-shirt shot that I’m sure advertisers could not have gotten away with in the United States. To view the video, visit The overall message was the promotion of an annual event supported by ReThink Breast Cancer called Boobyball.

This video is certainly not without controversy. Its strongest critics claim that the message is too flippant and resembles a beer commercial. Also visit

Although I am usually one of these critics who looks down my nose at such commercials, I think it’s important to take a little insight from Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point before I, and others like me, judge too quickly. The Tipping Point lends a valid explanation as to why this campaign went from just any other sex-driven commercial to the controversy it ultimately became. That explanation is that the video ‘tipped’ into such controversy because of three functions that cause social epidemics. These functions are the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.

Aliya Jasmine-Sovani, a host of Canada’s MTV affiliate, was the actress in this video, as well as the writer and co-producer. The Law of the Few holds that it takes just one charismatic, influential and social person to transmit a social epidemic to the masses. The message, on the other hand, has to have a ‘stickiness’ to it – it has to take a crucial step from just being memorable to actually having an impact. The combination of these characteristics are driven to further epidemic proportions when they occur in the right context. Basically, this campaign ‘tipped’ when a grave issue was packaged in a sexual context and delivered by a charismatic and popular television host. So when I viewed this message, I didn’t laugh and consider just another sex-in-advertising instance. It actually impacted me, and stuck.

So before we judge, I think it’s important to understand that this video was not just a gratuitous display of sexual content. It was an attention-grabbing tactic that focused on an important awareness message. I’m not convinced it was all that bad.

For more information on, or how to purchase The Tipping Point visit

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Public relations practitioners as Connectors, Mavens and Salesman

According to Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, the world revolves around three types of people; connectors, mavens and salesman. Connectors are people with large social networks who span different fringes of society and being people together. Maven's are people who collect information and knowledge about the marketplace, then relate and connect it to others so that many can benefit from the information as well. Salesmen, according to Gladwell, are the charismatic persuaders skilled in making others agree with them. Successful public relations practitioners encompass all three of Gladwell's variables of people.

Public relations practitioners commonly use research to connect organizations with their target publics. As connectors, they enhance and strengthen organizational relationships both internally and externally.

Informing publics about opportunities is a public relations practitioner’s main responsibility. As mavens, public relations practitioners are not only beneficial to consumers and target publics by informing them of valuable resources their client can offer but they also benefit the clients themselves by getting their message out into the world.

Public relations practitioners are skilled in the powers of persuasion. As salesman, public relations practitioners know how to target and influence their publics to change their attitudes, awareness and behaviors. To be successful in public relations the practitioner's ability to sway opinion in others is necessary.

In case study 4-2 (Hendrix, Hayes, 102), the public relations practitioners working for Dean Foods overcame difficult changes and obstacles to create a fast and barrier-free transition externally while maintaining a shared mind-set within the organization to make the internal transition easy.

The public relations practitioners for Deans Food acted as connectors, mavens and salesman. They connected employees to the new accounting and finance function of the organization by establishing a coalition of employees to help with the changes.

At Dean Foods, public relations practitioners acted as mavens by increasing employee access to information about the project in a timely and consistent way.

As salesman, the practitioners sold the idea of change to employees and persuaded them to join the program.

The role of public relations practitioners is based on the ability to bring publics together, inform them of necessary information and sell them the idea. Without this skills and personality traits of public relations practitioners as connectors, mavens and salesman, the role of public relations would be altered dramatically and might not exist at all.


Image courtesy of

Sara Brubaker

October 3, 2009