Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Today, this is a non-blog blog entry: I am not targeting any specific vendors. But I think it has to be put out on the table. There is a not-so-fine line between offering products that assuage fear and pitching product offerings within a terrifying context. I saw such a pitch today and I was so upset, I had to leave the room.
So let's get right to the point. Marketers would never sell wheelchairs or walkers by showing pictures of car crashes and before-after shots of once-healthy and now-paraplegic individuals. Marketers do not sell diet programs by showing pictures of 400 pound individuals or those who have suffered amputations as a result of weight-related diabetes. Of course they wouldn't. How offensive.
So too, marketers should not conceive of marketing programs for cognitive fitness or memory-related drugs based on showing video footage of the severe cognitive decline of individuals suffering from Alzheimer's. Why not? Even if there was proof of efficacy and there is no proof, let's try to imagine who is the target audience to view such material.
Adult children of Alzheimer's sufferers -- perhaps early stage, not yet incapacitated? Can a vendor be offering a guarantee that the disease won't progress? Okay, then forget that. What the disease looks like? If you can't prevent the car crash that results in wheelchair dependency, and you can't prevent the horrors of severe obesity, then vendors should stay silent on what Alzheimer's looks like in its end stage. Plenty of information and documentary footage exists out there for those who are looking for it. The Alzheimer's Association exists to provide insight and guidance.
How about baby boomers whose parents died of it? Well, truth be told, that's why I am writing this -- I guess this really bugs me because my mother died a bad death from this disease. Just like Aricept and related drugs were not going to prevent her decline (from singing and playing the piano to becoming virtually catatonic) and eventual death, I am not happy watching video of similarly horrific decline in the context of the sale of a product.
Any product, whether it is fall detection, sensor-based monitoring, telehealth technologies, medication reminders, seat belts,or anything else where the apparent non-use of the product results in a horrific outcome -- this is no way to match solutions to problems or overcome possible purchaser objections. If a marketer can't discuss the usefulness of a product in a non-horrific context, then it shouldn't be on the market.