Monday, May 16, 2005

Hi, I’m Wavy Gravy. When I’m in Springfield I like to have an angioplasty performed at the Prairie Heart Institute.

That’s the basic concept behind an advertising campaign that hopes to make baby boomers aware that all that free love has finally taken a toll on their hearts. Okay, I hyperbolize. But the campaign does use sixties-style art and Alfred E Newman as a way connect to the 40-60 year old crowd and turn them on to something called CVD.

What’s CVD? Hopefully the boomers know because a local advertising campaign is banking on it. Actually, the Prairie Heart Institute is banking on it because they’re the ones footing the bill. The letters CVD are the sign’s most visible element and unless it’s common knowledge among the target audience that it’s an acronym for cardiovascular disease, then it might as well stand for Charles Van Doren (who was from the generation that gave birth to the baby boomers.) Nothing else in the design would suggest preventive heart care. The tag line "a sign of the times" is also vague in the context that it appears.

I’m not sure that images that harken back to their carefree days of youth are the best way to make boomers aware that they may have a time bomb about to go off in their chest. Living in the past is what keeps people from recognizing that their bodies aren’t the resilient machines they once were. And if CVD is supposed is meant to play off LSD, then the whole concept has gone off on a bad trip.

The campaign has shifted gears recently, and for the better. The new ads get the attention of their target audience by mentioning a defining event from an earlier time in their life (in 1969 we walked on the moon) and then brings them back down to earth in terms of where they are today (in 2005, we walk on treadmills.) The graphics are clean and legible. The message is direct and relevant. It tells the target audience that they aren’t so young anymore and they have to work if they want to maintain their health. There is even a call to action by asking people to order an information booklet, an element that would make famed adman David Ogilvy proud.

The hippy-dippy campaign was probably more fun for the agency to work on and it is more likely to receive an industry award than the simple ads that followed. But advertising isn't about being having fun or winning awards, it's about getting the client's message noticed and getting the audience to take the desired action. I'd bet that the cats at Prairie Heart are digging the current campaign a lot more.

1 comment:

Dan M. said...

The "CVD" in blue, white, and red is a take-off of the old "STP" symbol that was, and possibly still is, on the side of all race cars. Not sure if you knew that.

We walked on the moon in 1961? Better re-check that fact pal. Give Newsweek a call. They have a wonerful method of fact checking.