Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=156967
Story Retrieval Date: 5/24/2013 5:40:34 PM CST
Awareness campaigns are throwing elbows this February to get noticed. Because it’s International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, and National Children’s Dental Health Month, and don’t forget, National Wise Health Consumer Month.
But it’s American Heart Month that has emerged as the rock star of awareness movements in Chicago – thanks to the Go Red For Women publicity campaign.
Go Red has teamed up with the American Heart Association to host events around the city to raise awareness of heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer.
The group hosted “What’s Your Perfect Shade of Red . . . Car?” at the Chicago Auto Show on Tuesday. Red vehicles were on display in the main concourse of McCormick Place, alongside booths stocked with Go Red goodies and informative pamphlets about heart disease.
A car show might not be the first place you’d look to host a campaign targeting women. Katie Green, marketing director of the American Heart Association in Chicago, explains why it works.
“Most people think of heart disease as a men’s disease,” Green said. “It is. But it’s also a women’s disease. It’s the same thing with cars. Women are interested, too. Heart disease kills women just as much as men.”
Since its inception in 2004, Go Red has really taken off.
“This is our sixth year,” Green said. “It is pretty amazing when you compare it to other causes that have been around for 30 plus years.”
The national director of the Go Red For Women campaign, Julie Robertson, attributes the campaign's success to a synergy among marketing, digital and communication divisions. But she says the true success lies deeper.
“Tapping into real stories is critical,” Robertson said. “Almost 85 percent of the women in our database know someone who’s been affected by heart disease. It really builds a passion.”
The message is contagious.
“I think really engaging our volunteers and partners as much we can is what does it," Green said. “Everyone we work with is so dedicated to the cause. It’s not just professional, it’s personal.”
Sponsorship has enabled Go Red to spread the word across Chicago. Merck & Co. and Macy’s are national sponsors, but local businesses get involved at the city level.
“Our sponsors and supporters, through funds and their own marketing and advertizing, have helped us get the word out,” Robertson said.
Robertson explained that in watching a broadcast about a Chicago snowstorm, she noticed red banners blanketing State Street. “There were our red banners,” Robertson said. “That’s the work of our dedicated volunteers in Chicago – it means our logo and message will get out there.”
Green explained the banners: “It’s called State Street Beat,” she said. “We’ve worked with the Chicago Loop Alliance to deck out State Street. We have signs and engaging visuals to help people learn and understand the risk of heart disease.”
“People aren’t watching TV or listening to the radio anymore, so it’s necessary to approach people through nontraditional media,” said Michael McFarland, senior account manager of New York-based advertising agency GoGORILLA Media. “The goal is to get people talking about what they see.”