This is a public service announcement… and I am officially on my soap box.
Next Wednesday, October 12, is World Arthritis Day. So, it was the perfect choice as a target date for a special event heralding the new partnership between Massage Envy and the Arthritis Foundation. On that date, Massage Envy will be donating $10 from every massage and facial service back to the Arthritis Foundation. They have 700 stores across the nation…. and this event, called Healing Hands for Arthritis, could bring a sizeable donation.
There has been considerable buzz about this event among my JA friends…and we have been posting about it on facebook and twitter (although I’m not a tweeter myself…. if that is even a term!). There have been articles posted about the benefits of massage, how it is more affordable than most people think. Massage Envy, as a company, seems dedicated to wellness in general, and has blogged about the ways that massage can help you deal with chronic pain. There are clinical trials documenting the benefits of massage specifically for children with arthritis.
I love massage… it feels great. It has played a part in Caitlin’s pain management and in my own stress management. There were some occasions (though rare) early in her diagnosis that I took the time and money to go get a massage. On more than one occasion – just the beauty and nurturing of having somebody touch me… just the tranquility of being in such a peaceful place – brought me to tears. I lay there crying during my massage and my relief was far deeper than muscle level. But – I’m not really about trying to convince you that massage is good – or that Healing Hands for Arthritis is a great event – I’ll just assume we are sort of on the same page there.
But I would like to hit you with a different angle on this. Beyond the touchy-feely (pardon the pun) side of this event, there is another level all together. I was privileged to get a sneak peek at this campaign at a conference I attended. And if you’ve seen the video, you’ll notice that there is some footage of Caitlin in it – so I was probably biased when I was moved watching it. They even premiered a commercial about the Healing Hands for Arthritis Event. I cried again when they aired this commercial – because in it, they mention that children get arthritis too. And this, is a national spot. It began airing on September 19 and will air until October 12. It is airing during the Today Show on NBC, and on Food Network, CNN and HGTV. Print ads are currently appearing in magazines such as Shape, Arthritis Today, More and Massage Today. All told, this NATIONAL media campaign is expected to garner 98,954,250 media impressions. I don’t know if I can put into words how grateful that makes me feel… that somebody amplified our cries that Arthritis is serious and is an unacceptable thief of the quality of life, and of course that KIDS GET ARTHRITIS TOO!!!!
Ok. So, we are in the month of October. Anybody who watches TV or shops in a Supermarket or reads any type of publication can tell you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m all for it – I have breasts – I love them. I love a number of women who have fought this disease. I’m all for raising money and eradicating this scourge! But this sea of pink can get a little disheartening. It’s seemingly everywhere.
It feels like an endless uphill battle to get attention to the fact that Arthritis affects SO MANY people – 50 MILLION PEOPLE…. and 300,000 children and yet…. It hasn’t quite been 30 years since Susan G. Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker, launched the cause from a promise to her sister as she lost her battle with breast cancer. And now – that pink ribbon is everywhere from yogurt labels, to cereal boxes to Brillo Pads. You will even find it on football players in the NFL and on the bullriders of the PBR. The pink ribbon is the king of cause marketing.… and there are plenty of organizations that use the ribbon and benefit from the fact that purchasing something with a pink ribbon is a quick and easy way for people to feel like they are doing something good. “I like yogurt! But I’m going to choose THIS yogurt because it will help somebody.”
Well, rock on pink ribbon! But I want that for my kid too. I want a blue ribbon day or week or month… and I want people to be able to do something as easy as buying a granola bar and have it benefit the future of people with arthritis. And let’s be real… those companies may all have very good altruistic intentions – but marketing is about a symbiotic relationship where BOTH parties win. Money back to the charity and more yogurt sold. Maybe some new brand familiarity and loyalty in the process for both the product and the charity. Win – win!
As far as I am concerned – Massage Envy is the glimmer of a future where World Arthritis Day is not a speckle of blue in a sea of pink. They represent recognition and awareness – and their marketing for this event has given greater voice to our cause than anything in recent history. They make sense as a partner for people with Arthritis – but they are also a national company with over 700 franchises – and growing. I’d love for all of their clinics to be booked up on October 12 – and you may say, “Well, that would be good for them.” Yes… yes it would. But it would be good for us too!!!
I want them to be happy…. because I want other BIG companies to see how happy they are, and what a great partner group WE are, and open their eyes to a potential relationship with OUR cause. If you think that’s cold… I’m sorry – it’s just the big picture for me. If you think that we do not have enough awareness… if you are tired of explaining that even though you don’t look sick, you are really fighting a chronic disease… if you wish that we had celebrities who thought our cause was “sexy” enough to tweet about… then you might want to think about spreading the word about Healing Hands for Arthritis.
This concludes my public service announcement. No matter what – I wish you health and happiness on World Arthritis Day. Rock on blue ribbon!!!!!