Archivo del January, 2014

Invisible maladies: disease, illness and sickness


“Society pays a lot of attention to neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and other diseases that can easily capture an audience’s interest. Other devastating diseases are victims of invisibility, like tuberculosis, the Cinderella of marketing,” wrote Imma Monsó in La Vanguardia. Or as the great Keith Jarrett once said, “Everything is marketing.”

The stakeholders surrounding a particular disease need to understand that diseases must be marketed in order to secure resources, to get patients to follow treatment, and to raise awareness about prevention.

We recently conducted a study to find out which diseases spark the greatest interest among Spaniards: in first place was cancer, followed by AIDS, leprosy, Alzheimer’s disease and anorexia. Let’s compare these results with the list of the most common diseases: in first place, obesity, followed by anorexia, cancer, asthma and AIDS. The public’s level of scientific literacy is low, but we must remember that understanding follows motivation. Only when people believe they can get something out of knowledge will they make an effort to acquire it.

Gaining knowledge about health essentially depends on the media – that “old goat”, in Norman Mailer’s metaphor, that eats tidbits, gristle and garbage cans but eventually expels stories that seduce readers. The media know how to emphasise the patient’s human side, and in so doing they achieve an applied understanding of the difference between disease (that which doctors detect and treat), illness (the subjective experience of health changes and their consequences), and sickness (the “sick role” played by the afflicted individual).

People’s beliefs are the main factors that determine their health-related behaviour. Healthcare and social-marketing professionals should therefore aim to bring invisible diseases out of the shadows – even if it means mounting endless telethons.

 

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Crown marketing: corporate branding or proselytism?

On unveiling its new marketing project, the Spanish Royal Household took pains to stress that it was, in fact, marketing, and not proselytism. What’s the difference?

Balmer has conducted studies on the monarchies of Great Britain and Sweden, focusing on the concept of ‘corporate brand’. He concludes that the ‘royal branding mix’ involves building a corporate brand identity around five attributes: royal, regal, relevant, responsive and respected.

However, the Spanish monarchy is a unique case that has nothing to do with Balmer’s results. The Spanish Royal Household recently presented a new three-year marketing plan oriented towards children. Here are the main steps they have taken:

-          Market research prompted them to adopt a segmentation strategy focused on children between the ages of 9 and 12 who are unfamiliar with the Royal Household. They avoided the segment with the most negative vision of the monarchy (ages 18 to 22), and E.Life specific studies revealing the public’s feelings about the Royal Household (negative in 58% of cases).

-          They had a former Disney animator create a specific website for children as an addition to the Royal Household’s main website. Spanish teachers will be encouraged to use the site to correct the educational deficiencies that have led to the present situation. The site offers as value creation for the stakeholder teachers photos and videos of the royal family, as well as printable drawings and cut-outs.

-          The Royal Household spokesman reiterated that the project is not proselytism or an attempt to sway public opinion. It is a belief shared by companies in many sectors: if we educate and inform – if we simply show reality – then we’ve already created enough value to dodge the competition (republicans, anarchists and the disillusioned). It’s the same logic that the King of Spain used after his African hunting trip was brought to light: “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, and it won’t happen again.”

Marketing knows how to listen, how to identify motivations and barriers, and how to modify its solutions in order to create more value for users. A principle neglected when the spokesman mentioned a reply given by one boy when asked what the king and queen do: “They don’t do anything, because they’re the king and queen.”

 

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