Daily Archives: April 30, 2009

Swine Flu and Star Wars

Whew. Swine flu is history. Well, OK. Maybe, maybe not. But Prez O and federal health officials are rebranding it: H1N1 flu. Wasn’t that the name of one of the droids in an early Star Wars flick?

Well, no. The droid was R2-D2. My bad. But the movie was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phanton Menace.

With luck, the Phanton Menace will aptly describe the current scare about swine flu. (Oops, H1N1.) Let’s hope so. Clearly this does have the potential to be a serious health problem — although right now it seems to me that we are creating considerable concern in areas where there is no illness. Still, as I mentioned in a prior post, nobody wants to be be standing next to the Prez and hear the words, “Brownie, heck of a job.”

And in the midst of the health warnings, this may very well be a marketing opportunity. Hey, the economy can use all the help we can give it. (News note: Chrysler scheduled to go pork-belly up today. Sorry about that.)

For instance, an article in the Wall Street Journal online reports:

As fears of swine flu spread, companies ranging from soap and hand-sanitizer manufacturers to makers of designer face masks are ramping up their marketing efforts, mostly pitching prevention messages starring their products.

Note to self: Don’t even think about a designer face mask.

OK. So maybe some increased sales of soap. And maybe a sales boost for designer face masks. (Is there really a market for designer face masks short of a flu epidemic?) But wouldn’t the real money go to the marketing firm that gets the gig to rebrand swine flu as H1N1? That doesn’t strike me as an easy sell. So at a minimum it is going to require focus group research, message framing and development, field testing, ad buys, media placements and the full range of viral (no pun intended) marketing offered by social media platforms these days.

Wow. Add all that up and there is some potentially big bucks involved. And for all I know the money is available via the recently passed economic stimulus plan — dubbed “porkulus” by Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and a host of others.

Oink. Oink.