“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” 
Mahatma Gandhi

There’s an expression that nothing is more important than your health. And that age-old idea has really emerged in some notable and award-winning campaigns over the past few months.

After Cannes I shared an emerging theme that brands need to be defiant and add real value. As we begin framing our clients’ stories for 2020, we’re seeing another theme: brands and categories with a direct or indirect connection to health can add value by contributing to a healthier world.

The quality of campaigns by healthcare brands, such as The Breath of Life by GlaxoSmithKline that won a Cannes Lions Grand Prix, continues to grow and be recognized. Considering the regulatory, legal and medical hurdles pharma and healthcare brands have to navigate, bringing creativity to life in the healthcare space can be an especially big challenge.

But what’s truly remarkable is that now some of the best campaigns in health and wellness are no longer exclusive to pharma and healthcare brands.

An excellent example of this comes from IKEA in Israel. The brand’s Thisables campaign, which adapted top products to make them more accessible to people with disabilities, has generated a lot of attention and won multiple awards. Cannes jury president Shaheed Peera summed it up perfectly when he said, “We could have never imagined IKEA being in a health and wellness show.”

And it’s not just about healthy humans. Take the award-winning Purina Street Vet campaign (disclosure: Weber Shandwick worked on this out of our Paris office) which connected the dog and cat food brand to pet health. The campaign turned billboards into remote “veterinarians,” analyzing the urine left by passing dogs for potential health problems.

Why are we starting to see more non-healthcare brands talking about improving lives?

The reality is that issues in healthcare are big and complex. There’s access to care, affordability, health literacy, patient advocacy, mental health and privacy, just to name a few. There are hundreds of companies, government agencies, and individuals that contribute to a massive system. And the problems seem to get more complex every day.

So the real question is, do non-healthcare brands truly have the right to solve health issues? Or even to take a specific position?

According to Canadians polled in a recent survey hosted on the Angus-Reid Forum, the answer is they absolutely do. The survey tells us 61% of Canadians agree that brands not in the healthcare space (e.g. packaged goods, technology, fashion) have a duty to find ways improve their customers’ health and wellness.

The survey reveals that 89% of Canadians are more likely to purchase a product or service because it has a connection to improving their health and wellness. And 84% would switch their loyalty to a brand that improves health and wellness, compared to one that doesn’t.

So, even if you are not a health brand, you are a health brand. Or you should be. So where do you start?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Does your brand have a health or wellness story waiting to be told?
  2. What matters to your audience? What problems can you help them solve?
  3. What data does your organization have? How can you look at that data in a new way?
  4. What organizations do you currently partner with that can help you have an impact on health and wellness? What organizations can you find?

If you want to truly add value, make an impact, and compete in the busy public marketplace of ideas, consider how you can improve the health and wellness of your audiences. Because every brand is a health brand.

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