Do you remember how you felt when you first watched Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report as he desperately tried to escape personalized advertising? In 2002, less than 15 years ago, it was scary to think that big companies could influence our buying decisions so intimately as referring to us by our first name. Today, you can’t put a product into an online shopping cart without getting an email reminding you to buy something the next day.
I recently read in Media Post that mobile ad spend is going to overtake newspapers in 2016 and that TV advertising will finally be outdone by Internet advertising in 2018. For a Gen-Y person like myself, who learned how to type on a typewriter in elementary school but graduated high school submitting homework assignments using Microsoft Word, that sort of information is mind-blowing. Technology has improved communications so greatly over the past 20 years (we’ve graduated from VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray to Netflix) that marketers/advertisers are constantly scrambling to keep up with the most innovative way to reach their audiences.
Last weekend, I popped into an Old Navy to quickly grab an outfit to change into while out and about. There was an unstaffed table up front with a huge roll of stickers, which I subconsciously HAD to stick onto my boyfriend’s shirt for a good chuckle. He proudly wore that “I can stop, drop & roll!” sticker all the way through check out just to irritate me back.
While waiting for the cashier, I noticed the store was actually saturated in other safety messages like the one he happily obliged to wear. Littered through the merchandise displays were remnants of coloring pages, magnets, posters, face-in-hole photo props and other odds and ends, which sent my health communicator sirens off in full alert! Surprisingly to me, there was not a hashtag in sight.
I reflected on how working in a purely digital realm has taken over my thought process when it comes to health messaging. Seeing such a strong, but conventional campaign as Old Navy’s partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children* to raise awareness (and money) for child safety issues executed so effectively inspired me to look at my own work and bring it back to the old-school—where content is and has always been king.
The “Internet of Things” has certainly challenged us working in health to come up with clever and creative ways for delivering messages that can stand up against big brand, integrated campaigns, but it’s not the be all and end all. It’s a fascinating time to work in this industry, where we have fancy digital tools to get our story out there but still have audiences who remember lugging around encyclopedia sets rather than using “the Google.”
*The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NEMEC) and Old Navy “Play It Safe” child safety event took place in Old Navy stores nationwide from September 15 through September 23. During the event, families received free child safety tips and information from NCMEC that can help keep their children safer. Customers were also able to support NCMEC by making a donation at the register. On Saturday, September 19, customers also had an opportunity to meet local heroes during an in-store child safety fair. Old Navy stores nationwide invited local law enforcement, firefighters, and other local heroes to speak with families about child safety.