Next chapter, scene 2 …

Doug Bennett and Jim Rattray, overlooking Boston's Financial District. Photo by Rod Smith.

Doug Bennett and Jim Rattray, overlooking Boston's Financial District. Photo by Rod Smith.

My next chapter starts now.

This month I joined Bennett Group, the highly-decorated Boston-based health care marketing and advertising agency, as its Executive VP.

Doug Bennett and I have known each other for a couple of decades now and have had the chance to work together on a bunch of projects over the past year. 

It's been a great fit — and we both felt it was time to do more of that work.

I'm thrilled to be joining Bennett Group's stellar team of strategic and creative thinkers. The agency has long been one of the best in the country at making health care accessible, understandable and fun while driving some pretty sweet results for its clients.

Coming back to Boston is a bit of a full circle for me. Just out of Boston University, I began my communications career in the Hub as a writer and editor for United Press International in the old and now-demolished Boston Herald building on Harrison Avenue (and just one mile from Bennett Group's hip Seaport district offices!).

I later worked in Copley Square for what was then called The New England (now part of MetLife) as an inside news writer, penning articles and marketing pieces for its nationwide corps of life insurance agents, before joining New England Baptist Hospital as its director of public affairs. It was at the Baptist where health care would begin to define most of the rest of my career — it was a meaningful subject that affected real people's lives in real ways and I could play a role in improving (and maybe even saving) some lives.

That has continued through many more years and a few more stops, including working on the health insurance side, a great stint in academia at Duke University, where I focused on environmental communications and finally 13 awesome years at Southcoast Health System, where I was a health care marketing and PR executive.

This will be an exciting next chapter. Bennett Group is dynamic — in its people, clients and the work we do — and I'm eager to bring some new ideas, experiences and skills to Doug's team. I'm equally eager to learn from my colleagues and our clients. 

So let's get started!

This blog will continue, albeit somewhat less frequently, as I will also be posting soon at our new Bennett Group site as well as on Facebook, Twitter and, soon, other social media channels.

Please stay in touch!

When the real world commandeers your brand name

It's usually good news when your startup's name sticks and everyone knows it. Sometimes the name sticks for the wrong reason, as mobile payment startup Isis is finding out.

Isis, which was founded by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless and allows users to flash their mobile phone to make payments using Near Field Communication or enhanced SIM cards, has the unfortunate circumstance of having the same name as the militant group, ISIS, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

ISIS, the militants, has made a lot of news, not much of it good. 

Now Isis, the startup, is making news — it's changing it's name.

Isis, the startup, posted a message from CEO Michael Abbott yesterday titled "Embarking on a New Brand." Abbott says:

However coincidental, we have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering. As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand.

Abbott says the name change process is just beginning. But I suspect it will be swift.

Props to Isis, the startup, for the bold move. It's never easy to rebrand, but a service as critical as a mobile payment system must first exude confidence in its users. The company must eliminate any doubt, uncertainty or confusion that could compromise that confidence.


108 + 225,001 = 1 cricket-crazy film

Here's a very cool and captivating crowd-sourced video from Nike that captures the worldwide craziness that is cricket.

Agency JWT invited 108 photographers to snap pre-determined shots on "playgrounds" in cricket-crazy locales around India. The result was a pool of 225,001 images, of which 1,440 images were used in the final piece.

Makes you maybe even want to go watch a test match.

Source: John Nack blog.


Are you running a brand police state?

I have a confession: I am a recovering member of the Brand Police.

In fact, I once was presented an actual badge from my staff to memorialize my diligence in policing our hospital's logo usage.

But the times they have a' changed. 

In our burgeoning era of social engagement, the idea of brands is evolving. No longer should we think of brands as company-managed promotional vessels, but rather the living, breathing experience that our customers, patients and clients have when they interact with our organizations.

Brands reflect the experience people have with us. When we ensure the experience is great — every time! — then we are truly being great stewards of our brands.

So if people love our brand, let them show it — their way. Genuine expression of love beats manufactured perfection every day.

Source: Thanks to Tom Fishburne for his inspiration today!

Higher taxes may help curb death by tobacco

The health risks of using tobacco are well documented. And just about every scheme has been tried to get people to quit smoking.

This year the World Health Organization's Tobacco Free Initiative is marking World No Tobacco Day on May 31 by advocating for a global hike in taxes on tobacco.

A tax increase that increases tobacco prices by 10% decreases tobacco consumption by about 4% in high-income countries and by up to 8% in most low- and middle-income countries.

The WHO calls increasing taxes on tobacco "the most cost-effective tobacco control measure." It also makes good financial sense.

The World Health Report 2010 indicated that a 50% increase in tobacco excise taxes would generate a little more than US$1.4 billion in additional funds in 22 low-income countries. If allocated to health, government health spending in these countries could increase by up to 50%.

Tobacco kills some 6 million people each year, including 600,000 non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.

Learn more about the initiative and how you can support it.


Source: Ads of the World