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

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. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.