Is it possible to brand a disease? That’s what the American Heart Association seemed to be doing when it launched the Boomer Coalition, a “movement” created to raise the awareness of CVD, in an ad early in the Academy Awards marathon last night. What’s CVD? Maybe I’m alone, but I certainly didn’t know. That’s why, once the intriguing commercial was over, I got up from the couch, went over to my computer, and typed www.boomercoalition.org into my browser. I spent 10 minutes exploring the site (CVD, or cardiovascular disease, is just another name for heart disease, I learned) before I realized I was missing part of the awards. Effective advertising, for sure.
On a drive-in screen, the spot featured–in an Oscar-like obituary montage–a number of celebrities who’ve died from CVD. Directed by Bryan Singer, the man behind “The Usual Suspects” and “X-Men,” the ad connected superbly with its audience–boomers who remember the drive-ins, movie buffs watching the Oscars, and, if they checked out the Web site, aging activists now apathetic about their own health.
But why use “CVD”? Why not just call it heart disease? Though CVD is used all the time in the health sciences, the mysterious-sounding name made me get off the couch and act. It made me relate a group of people to a serious disease. And, unlike much of the four-hour awards extravaganza, it made me think.