Bob Dylan Shills For The Kaiser, And Opposition Mounts

When the unmistakable opening guitar chords of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” popped up during a commercial break, I perked up my ears. Turns out Kaiser Permanente is using Dylan to promote its new “Thrive” campaign, encouraging people to adopt healthy habits.
But some people don’t like it–as evidenced by this website, which is committed to exposing the ‘truth’ behind the ad campaign and other KP business practices. Among the things you can find on this site is a 50-page PDF brand positioning discussion, in which Kaiser admits it needs to change its image. Right off the bat, KP’s research shows that “75% of people who are offered Kaiser Permanente probably or definitely would not consider us for their healthcare coverage.”
Kaiser’s agency is Campbell-Ewald, by the way. They don’t have an easy task. It’s no secret that Kaiser Permanente has had its share of troubles in recent years, and advertising can only do so much to fix problems that seem to be deeply rooted.
This is a fascinating study of a corporation, its PR and advertising efforts, and its active opposition. I originally just wanted to find the Dylan commercial to link to, but instead I stumbled onto the whole opposition website. Once again, the power of the Internet (and Google) reinforces the need for as much corporate transparency as possible.
I need to dig and find some more info about all this, and I’ll update this post as necessary.
UPDATE: Yikes. Not only is the brand positioning discussion there, so is Campbell-Ewald’s Creative Brief and the campaign’s Logo Usage Guidelines, among other things. Much of this stuff has been on “Kaiser Thrive Exposed” for over a year now. According to the website:

there was no hacking involved. We found the first of the marketing materials on Google and that led us to the rest. None of the documents were behind the firewall, and all were easily accessible to anyone on the Internet. Makes you wonder if that claptrap HealthConnect system, which contains ALL of your personal and medical info, is secure. And since Kaiser has outsourced much of the work to India (causing many hardworking American IT folks to lose their jobs), WHO KNOWS what could happen? Can you say “identity theft” anyone?

Rarely have I ever seen a company’s internal marketing documents be actively used against it so openly. Somewhere there’s a leak no overactive bladder treatment could stop.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. So, how much Dylan was paid for his “services”?

  2. It’s even more disappointing that Allison Janney (C.J. on The West Wing) is being used as the voice of Thrive.
    The documents on the Thrive site were found before the Thrive Campaign was even launched. Leaders of the campaign in Kaiser’s Colorado region were posting the documents to a public web site, probably to facilitate ease of communication across the far-flung Kaiser dominions. Their web site was indexed by Google and made available to anyone who might have some critical comment.
    At the risk of pimping the book “BLOG”, which I haven’t read, there are some striking similarities to the Protestant Reformation here. As printed books became available and literacy increased, the laity found themselves in a position to access ideas previously limited to a clerical elite and criticize the Catholic corruption. Also thanks to printing technology, this criticism propagated and circulated rapidly. The Internet allows the same approach to the new Priesthood: corporate management. 🙂

  3. Ps. Did you notice in your Yahoo Ads that you are shilling for Kaiser, too. 🙂

  4. Damn those Google AdWords!

  5. Cathy Scola says:

    I am Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo disappointed in Dylan –

  6. Newroyrossi says:

    The Kaiser Permanente woman Allison Janney has the most annoying voice on earth, just as annoying as Flo

  7. Bob Dylan’s Stealing of James Damiano’s Songs