Category: Health Care Advertising

We’ve been doing it wrong all along

Just when you think mankind couldn’t achieve any higher heights of accomplishment, we’ve outdone ourselves again. Turns out, in going to the bathroom, we’ve been doing it wrong for thousands of years. But now, thanks to science and good-old-fashioned German engineering, they’ve invented a technology to facilitate elimination of Number Two, promote better colon health, reduce the heartbreak of hemorrhoids, and fight global climate change.


They found out you’re supposed to raise your knees when you…well…you know. Hence this amazing invention. easygopro stool

I know it just looks like a stool (ahem) , but it’s so much more;  it’s Euro-Ergo Design and made of high-tech, digital polymer (not mere plastic). It’s based on decades of intense concentration and colorectal research by real doctors. An arbitrarily assigned $34 value, but yours for only $25 (plus $8.95 shipping and…uh…handling… which brings it back up to $34). So don’t think you can just accomplish the same life-changing benefits by putting a $5 stool from Target in front of your toilet–one that hasn’t been euro-ergo designed.

Of course, there are several other companies marketing this paradigm-disrupting technology. But having seen the DRTV commercial for the easyGopro (which tells you what channels I’m demographically watching), I’m convinced that there’s only one choice: easyGopro. (Not to be confused with the GoPro helmet camera, which goes on your head, or the EasyGo PRO protein dispenser on KickStarter, which goes in your mouth,  this is the easyGopro, which goes somewhere else. This did cause some keyword search confusion.)

If you don’t believe me, just read the copy that easyGopro has to say about the company’s far-reaching goals.

  • “We set out to create the best toilet footrest possible! That’s why we hired Henner Jahns of Gecco-Vision located in the epicenter of Los Angeles’ Historic Art District. Henner’s passion and commitment is what makes easyGopro unique. Jahns’ award winning style and international flair, combined with a remarkable eye for great consumer products, sets easyGopro on a trajectory to fast becoming a household name.”

Look how they’ve taken this on as a mission. They even used a bang (!) to emphasize their earnestness as they set out on this quest. I mean, they trekked all the way into the bowels of “the epicenter of Los Angeles’ Historic Art District” to find award-winning euro-designer Henner Jahns of Gecco-Vision, with his “passion and commitment” to improving the way we poop. Don’t trust those other stool stool manufacturers with their feeble, non-euro designs, like the family-owned Squatty Potty  or The Original Step-n-Go (who have no cute euro-designers). Even though they say so, they’re not nearly as passionate , or committed, about the best alimentary elimination possible(!).

To add to the marketing punch, all of these companies feature state-of-the-art animations and graphics showing what your inner plumbing looks like when you sit on a toilet versus when you squat the correct way…the way God intended. If that isn’t inspiring to you, then you must be dead down there already.

EasyGopro‘s website also features a highly informative video with Henner talking in his charming, German-Engineering accent about BMs…for four-and-a-half intense minutes. You wouldn’t think there was that much to say about it. But you’d be wrong. His passion, his commitment (and his great hair) are infectious.  I know it looks like a satirical commercial on SNL, but it’s actual marketing! They’re serious.

Then, on the Squatty Potty site, they have these professionally produced and serious graphics to demonstrate how to “poop like a pro”, underscored with the professional typeface and industrial grade emoticons scientifically illustrating the transition of your emotional state:




And speaking of great marketing, I also love coy exhortations (as on the Squatty Potty site) to “Poop like a Pro” or “Go time just got easier” (on the easyGopro site). Those bring up so many doubts about how unprofessionally I’ve been getting through my life and how hard it’s been; these are truly existential questions about self-worth.  And, as we all know, creating self-doubt is one of the core rules of marketing: Do I smell bad? Am I not living up to my potential? Am I a terrible parent? How long has that thing been there? Am I in a dead-end job? Are my teeth not white enough? Will I not be able to perform when my wife gives me that “look”? Am I losing valuable nutrients by not juicing properly?

And now, am I not going to the bathroom like a pro?

Finally, I want to know how I can get a hold of some of easyGopro’s kickin’ T-shirts so I can be part of the easyGopro marketing mission. I especially like the “Go Big” message, and the “I [heart] 2 Go”. Who wouldn’t want to proudly wear those in public? You just want to walk up to an attractive stranger wearing one of these and say, “So tell me about your bowel movements.”

easyGopro t-shirts


In your face, Big Insurance

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Don’t you hate your health insurance company? Here you pay high premiums every month and when you get sick and need them to step up, they start welching on the bet. Or they won’t authorize a procedure or a test your doctor thinks you need. Or worse, they  just drop you. “Eeeeyew! Sick! Sick! Pre-existing cooties! Get away!” And good luck in those not-so-long-ago days trying to get new insurance once you’ve been ejected from the plane.

Then along comes the ACA (until the Supreme Court ejects it, that is) and not only are health insurance companies not allowed to reject you anymore, each state that wants it can set up a true-non-profit insurance company that’s focused on getting health care to people instead of placating grumpy shareholders with dividends. It’s a CO-OP, or Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan and their goals are to drive costs down without taking it out of the hides of the rest of us.

An Ad Agency’s Dream: A Social Good

It’s really rare when you have an opportunity to develop an ad campaign that is part of worthy social movement; something that might actually do some good and start to fix a broken system. We just had that opportunity with Oregon’s health insurance CO-OP, Health Republic. (Okay a blatant plug. But this is a marketing blog, for crying out loud! And I’m marketing…my agency and my client. So go read a more uplifting blog about kale or something.)

The idea of Health Republic (and all state CO-OPs  under the ACA) is to offer a true-non-profit health insurance alternative to the for-profit insurance giants who have been dominating the delivery of health care in our country since they figured out they could make much more money by denying care.

CO-OPs are run by their own members. They don’t have shareholders and the boards are elected by and sat on by members. They are also legally constrained from making profits, paying out executive bonuses and seven figure  compensation packages, shifting surplus revenues into offshore tax havens, or buying multi-million dollar sports arena sponsorships.

Which has made this campaign so gratifying to work on.

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This is what greets fans as they come out of a Blazer game at the “Moda Center” Click to enlarge

One of the first ads to run in it is this gigantic (125′ x 60′) outdoor board hanging on the massive grain elevator on the Willamette River, right opposite Portland’s sports arena, the Rose Center. Last year this was renamed in a controversial $40 million sponsorship, the “Moda Center.” Moda is Oregon’s largest for-profit health insurance company. And there was a lot of outrage over them spending so much to stick their logo on it (not to mention all the corporate boxes inside, and the simultaneously leaked story about the CEO’s  inflated compensation package), especially when health costs had been skyrocketing in the country.Health Republic pdx 104-1

But now, as Blazer fans emerge from the Moda Center after each game (or “Who at 50” fans from their concert), they’ll be greeted by this 60 foot tall message. This is particularly what I was thinking about from the last time I went to a Blazers game and heard all the cynical grumbling and editorial remarks from fans around me sneering about the “Moda Center.” To them, it had always been the “Rose Center” and will remain so, no matter how many millions some giant corporation dumps in smearing its logo all over it. Just like Ho Chi Minh City will remain Saigon. Damn it!

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East end of the Burnside Bridge, where tens of thousands struggle to get out of Portland each day.

So I was thinking about those cynical, angry fans when I was working on this campaign.

Earlier this year, at the end of the first ACA enrollment period, and soon after the brouhaha around Moda’s $40 million sports arena sponsorship, we ran the ad at lower left. It provoked an editorial hew-and-cry in the local press saying it was a direct slap at Moda, which had every right to use its profits anyway it saw fit. But Health Republic’s innocent attitude was, “What makes you think we’re talking about you, large, unnamed, for-profit insurance company? Don’t be so touchy.”

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But it served well to introduce the new concept in an atmosphere of public indignation over existing abuses in the traditional, for-profit, health insurance industry. Thousands signed up, even some who said they were doing it even though they hated the very idea of Obamacare (then call it Bushcare for all I care).

Rule #7: Emotions Rule

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Anyway, it is fun to run edgy advertising for a client that’s also the champion of a worthwhile social cause. And it’s so effective to tap into people’s gut emotions, especially when they’ve made them so clear. Our research showed that people resent their health insurance companies. Most people, do anyway. They think it’s unjust  that somebody seems to making a profit out of their misery and sickness. People have been yearning for a different system for decades.

So now along comes a different system, one that treats health insurance like a publicly regulated utility, one that can’t make a profit on your premiums. One that’s governed by its very members. And people have been snapping it up.

Nothing new in the advertising; just straightforward, old-fashioned, raw emotion. Unbreakable Rule #7.

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And you’ll be okay, Big Insurance. This is for the best.