April 05, 2013

A North Carolina hospital recently announced a new slogan as part of a rebrand:

Cheat Death

The hospital says they hope to create a community health movement, shifting the conversation from curative to preventative care. The slogan certainly packs cut-through among a sea of generic healthcare focused messaging, but it isn’t the first time it’s been used in a health context. The advert for pomegranate drink POM Wonderful, below, was banned for over-promising on the ability to cheat death with its antioxidant powers:


It’s obviously hard to make a case that this latest example is any different in terms of misleading claims, but it’s still attention-grabbing, and funny right? The strategic reasons behind the change are also sound—preventative health means money, time and energy saved rather than spent on fixing issues in later life. It falls down, though, when it comes to the additional baggage that comes along with that phrase. “Cheat Death” suggests “getting away with” bad behavior, or some kind of magical elixir to nullify a debauched life—a little self-defeating when attempting to build preventative care habits around eating and exercise. With a hospital that’s going to help you “Cheat Death”, what’s to stop you reaching for that 7th piece of pumpkin pie?

We like a slogan from Pfizer that has a similar strategy beyond it much more: “Get Old”. It’s about accepting that we get old, and trying to do it with confidence, and the help of products that will get you there. It’s positive, it’s an incentive, and it carries no negative connotations. Oh, and it avoids using the word “Death”. Best to steer clear of that if possible.



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