Small Agency Awards 2012

Campaign of the Year, Gold: Mono's 'The Human Doing'

Out-of-Home Takes on New Meaning When Blue Cross Blue Shield Uses a Man in a Glass Apartment as Billboard for Better Health

By Published on .

For Mono and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota client, thinking outside the box led to one man literally living inside a box.

In early 2011, the health insurer had worked with its Minneapolis-based ad shop on a series of TV spots aimed at "improving the health of people in Minnesota."

Minnesotans voted on campaign star's daily activities.
Minnesotans voted on campaign star's daily activities.

"We spent a lot of money on [TV], and it was a noble cause, but the problem wasn't high awareness," said Mono CEO Jim Scott. "People were aware of their campaign, but actual activation remained unchanged."

So in the spring, the team was charged with changing consumer behavior -- inspiring people to move more and eat more healthfully.

"It was a familiar challenge in the category, so we needed an idea that was anything but," said Mr. Scott.

At the center of the final idea, dubbed the "The Human Doing," was a glass, box-shaped apartment in the Mall of America. A man named Scott would live in that space for a month to show how exercise and diet changes could affect his health.

Scott wasn't a prisoner, but he slept, showered and cooked his meals in the apartment. Minnesotans could communicate with him through his Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as vote on activities, chosen by the team three times a day. His blog revealed his daily thoughts, and live webcams allowed people to watch his every move.

The team chose activities that were local and attainable. Suggestions included pushups, a Taekwondo class, dodgeball or speed-walking around the mall.

Almost immediately, Scott's routine attracted the local news outlets, which returned to monitor his progress at the end of each day. About 10 days into the process, word spread and a local cooking company asked if it could also participate in the challenge by doing a healthful cooking lesson with Scott.

Over the 30-day period, Scott lost 29 pounds and lowered his BMI to 32 from 37. His cholesterol dropped 110 points. He received 143,000 votes of public support. His Facebook page touted 8,000 comments, and the traffic on, the insurer's wellness platform, increased nearly 100%. The campaign garnered millions of media impressions from national outlets including CNN and the Associated Press.

"There were more people [engaging] in six days with his apartment in the Mall of America than in the prior six weeks of TV advertising," said Mr. Scott. "We said to the client, When was the last time 60 people circled around an outdoor board waiting for it to do something? "

While Mono continues to execute traditional campaigns for its clients, including Blue Cross, it's this kind of nontraditional capability that has contributed to a bevy of new-business wins, such as Angie's Kettle Corn and Fisker Automotive. The business has helped the shop nearly double its size over the past 18 months to a headcount of 65.

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