Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Chapter 2:
The Message and the Ads
Developing the Message
Ad Buy

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Developing the Message

Effective message development is difficult no matter what the subject. But developing an effective message about the importance of physical activity is a real challenge.

Have you ever noticed when Chrysler is trying to sell you a car, they do not actually sell you a Chrysler. They sell you the LeBaron or another specific model. And when you see a McDonalds commercial, you do not see a picture of the whole menu. You see a Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets or a special package deal. This is because these companies have limited time per commercial to explain why you and I should buy their products. Therefore, they develop specific messages for each product.

Unfortunately, those of us in health promotion do not have the luxury, time, or money to sell each physical activity option. So with our limited budgets, we need the biggest bang for our buck. As a result, we asked ourselves ?What physical activity can the most people do?? And ?Which physical activity, if marketed correctly, could get people more active?? Our answer ? Walking.

Deciding on the exact words, images, message for the campaign involved a complicated process directed by research associates. This process is briefly described in the Introduction and also in an the article: WHEELING WALKS: A Community Campaign Using Paid Media to Encourage Walking among Sedentary Older Adults Reger B, Cooper L, Booth-Butterfield S, Smith H, Bauman A, Wootan M, Middlestadt S, Marcus B, Greer F. Prev Med 2002. Sept;353:285-292.*

*Use of this article was granted with the sole purpose of being included in this manual. This article may not be used in any other way without specific permission.

Important characteristics of the ads include:

  • Communicate a clear and understandable message.
  • Recommend a specific action (walk 30 minutes a day on almost every day).
  • Offer a clear reason why people should walk.
  • Outline the benefits of walking.

Ad Buy

Cost of Advertisements: The cost of advertisements depends on many factors including the demographics of the target population and available resources. Since WHEELING WALKS acted as both a paying customer and a public service campaign, we asked for and received a 2 for 1 ad buy. That is, we received two advertisement gross rating points for the price of one. The first advertisement ran in a prime time slot. In this way, the power of our buy was almost doubled.

Placement of Advertisements: Placement of WHEELING WALKS radio, television, and newspaper advertisements must be done by a trained media buyer. Since our ads were produced by Zimmerman & Markman (Z&M), anyone using our ads is obligated to use Z&M?s media buyer (Call Bill Zimmerman at 310-451-2522). These professionals have knowledge of the demographics of each media channel and how best to reach the target group(s). In addition, the Z&M media buyer will help you manage the advertising budget so that the advertising is effectively spread out over the length of the 8-week campaign to sustain the campaign?s momentum. Furthermore, the advertising plan should be developed several months before your campaign to achieve the best placement and price for your advertisements.

Tips for the Local Coordinator:

When using paid advertising:

  • Work with the Zimmerman & Markman media buyer or ad agency. Provide the buyer or agency with specific information about the local stations. The general manager of the Wheeling TV station was very motivated to make our program a success and provided even more opportunities to the media buyer.
  • Work directly with an ad executive at each media outlet (TV, radio, newspaper). The ad buyer will focus on the ad buy. You focus on securing PSAs and garnering earned media.
  • Gather information about special shows or local events and provide the information to the ad buyer.
  • Be sure the ad buyer has the correct list of local TV and radio stations and print media.
  • Become familiar with the concept of gross rating points. The campaign?s impact on the target population is reflected in the TV and radio gross rating points.

NOTE: WHEELING WALKS Advertisements

Zimmerman & Markman produced two thirty-second television ads, two sixty-second radio ads, and two newspaper ads. Our Zimmerman & Markman ad agency used our budget to purchase a total of 683 prime time slots on the network-affiliated TV stations and 1,988 radio slots on twelve stations. Fourteen quarter-page newspaper ads were placed in the local newspapers over the course of the campaign. (See Appendix 2a for TV ad text, Appendix 2b for radio ad text, and Appendix 2c for newspaper ads.)

Use of the WHEELING WALKS ads


Use of these ads without written permission is prohibited. If you are using the WHEELING WALKS Walk ads for your campaign, all ad buys must be made through the professional ad agency designated by Zimmerman & Markman. Interested parties should contact Bill Zimmerman at 310-451-2522. Small programs (ad buys of less than $5,000) may be granted permission to run the ads without going through Zimmerman & Markman; however, this must be cleared through Bill Zimmerman.


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