Information with a health warning

Information overload in the consumer healthcare market is not just an issue of too much data: increasingly, the quantity of information is a health hazard.

David Benady (MW last week) described how contradictory messages lead to confusion. Our own study into “expert patients” confirms this, and our experience working with a client caught up in the MMR debate illustrates how an information overdose led directly to children being put at risk. Thousands of parents, rather than choosing between the alternatives, did not inoculate their children at all. An epidemic with fatal consequences isn’t a matter of “if”, but “when”.

In this environment of nanny state diktats and “barked” instructions, brands should be standing out as the trusted sources of information. Instead, many are caught up in the same kind of proclamation, talking like bossy parents to difficult children.

More than ever, brands need to treat their customers like adults, and, in the best bedside manner, use emotional insight, not just reason, with a touch of humour. Just like the classic healthcare ad, “the pregnant man” written over 30 years ago.

Michael Parker

Chief executive

Team Saatchi

London W1

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