Monday, March 15, 2010

Copywriting for Wellness: Turning Whimsical Makes a Winner for BP.

Few marketing copywriters ever get to write a line like “Listen to your inner asparagus.” Even fewer see the line in print. But I’m the lucky one thanks to an outstanding wellness marketing program at BP.

Among other projects, I was tasked to write the 2010 BP Wellness Calendar, in support of this year’s “Becoming a healthier you” employee benefits campaign.

The campaign itself is spearheaded by Janelle Ewing, who is Manager of Benefits Communication at BP America; and seconded by Bonnie Hargett, BP Benefits Communication Consultant. It’s been supported on the graphic design side by Prism Design – the Prismatics created the look for the internal campaign that includes this terrific 13-month calendar.

I created a “voice” for the calendar that went outside the lines a little – taking the month-after-month appeals from the pretty ordinary self-health advice column to the somewhat provocative, maybe-even-laugh-out-loud category. So, March, for example, starts off with “Get around to eating smarter” and continues:

Come on, you’re smarter than that pizza. Start cutting the intake of “stupid” foods while you build up your intake of smart foods like fruits and vegetables. Fact: Most women who eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can cut their risk of developing cancer by up to 50% compared to those who only eat two or three servings a day. Fact: Men can use at least nine servings to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

We backed up month-fulls of wellness tricks and tips with our sources for that data. We included appeals to participate in health advisory programs and earn reward points every month from the beginning of 2010 through the first month of next year. The calendar became a thorough compendium of wellness support, from the health benefits of working out to stress relief to back-to-school immunizations (“Invaders from inner space,” another great line.)

Look, wellness is a product: A proactive and preventive approach designed to provide optimum levels of health, emotional and social functioning. But selling wellness has been overlooked by common marketers. The “approved” definition of marketing itself leaves out a major group of stakeholders that’s hugely influential on each major corporation – the company’s employees.

In terms of their effect on revenue, profitability and long-term customer relationships, it has been proven that the improved physical and mental health of employees has substantial positive impact on both the cost of healthcare provided by the employer and the cost of doing business generally.

The BP benefits team fulfilled this marketing-inside function, along with the insight that a successful Employee Wellness Program has to be broad enough to meet the needs of all employees, regardless of their current level of health.

Ewing’s and Hargett’s more-than-ordinary communication effort has been crucial to getting employees to participate in greater numbers in the BP wellness program. The calendar is one component of a tight mixture of communications pieces and appeals – an internal marketing program which has been successful in generating high numbers of sign-ups.

Pretty cool that I got to participate in this, along with Prism designers Terry Teutsch and Stacy Allen. Thank you, BP, for the opportunity to deliver great work – with whimsy added.


Doc Lib said...

love the BP stuff, Richard ... yes, maybe a little "outside the lines" in terms of the expected, but that's what they came to you for ....something that people will engage with, chuckle a bit and, maybe, just maybe consider changing a behavior a little bit...great job!!!

Mike Hensgen

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Many thanks, Mike - coming from you, this means quite a lot. Ta...

Jennifer Canup said...

very clever! I love this idea for a wellness campaign component.

Jen Pearsall said...

Cool post!

Susan Reeves said...

Let's not compete with all the pretty calendars. We set out to create a wellness calendar with relevance to our lives today. Thank you Richard for joining us on this campaign. My inner asparagus is envious of your writing talent.