If you could give people access to their own DNA, and interpret what it could potentially mean for their health in the future — would they change the way they lived? Would they exercise more? Make alterations to their diet? Stop smoking?
Would they change the way they behave everyday?
That’s the bet that Anne Wojcicki waged when she started 23andMe, a world-changing, first of its kind direct-to-consumer genetic testing company that aims to shift the way we think about healthcare from its current diagnostic model to one based on prevention.
Before launching 23andMe, Wojcicki had already led a successful career as a health care analyst on Wall Street. This career path also came with a front-row seat to the red tape and lack of action that was plaguing the health care industry. Convinced that America needed a more efficient and more consumer-focused way to treat illness and invent drugs, she decided to pioneer a path forward. By founding 23andMe, she made championing that change her life purpose.
It’s a mission that landed her on the front page of Fast Company, accompanied by the bold headline “The Most Daring CEO in America.”
“We’re not just looking to get a venture-capital return.” Wojcicki told Fast Company. “We set out with this company to revolutionize health care.”
23andMe’s $999 saliva kit, which was delivered right to customers’ doorstep, allowed consumers to track their ancestry. It analyzed their DNA, tested for 254 health risks, and alerted consumers on their susceptibility to certain diseases – all without having to go to a doctor. Just a few weeks after submitting your kit, the results would come in with tips and guidance on how to reduce those health risks. Wojcicki was using technology to shorten the cycle of optimization.
Having this type of information could potentially spur people to make healthier lifestyle choices. Learning that you are at a higher risk for a certain disease, simply because of your genetics may propel you to mitigate that risk by making changes where you can, like quitting smoking or beginning to exercise more.
After a blazing hot start, the company’s personal genome test kit would go on to be named “Invention of the Year” by Time Magazine in 2008 – just two years after the brand was launched.
More venture capitalist funding came pouring in, and 23andMe drove the prices of its tests down from $999 in 2007, to $399 in 2008, to $99 in 2012. The product was intentionally being sold well below its marketplace cost, because the real growth potential, and the world-changing impact that comes with it, doesn’t lie in the saliva kits.
Instead, 23andMe was steadily building a gold mine of health and DNA data by building on its wide community of consumers – a valuable commodity to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and even governments.
Each consumer is asked to participate in research, with a clear majority of them providing consent. All of the information gathered is under anonymity, with no individual data being sold. Through partnerships, this aggregated data could now be used to research and discover cures for diseases that spring up from troublesome genetic mutations.
23andMe was disruptive. It utilized technology to supplant an ingrained habit with something that didn’t formerly exist. An entirely new experience – and one that was less expensive, more convenient, and more consumer-driven.
And the disruptive brand is one that is met with confusion, uncertainty and resistance – and, in November of 2013, that resistance came by way of the FDA.
With a harshly worded email, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanded 23andMe to withdraw all its tests for genetic risks related to health from the market – limiting the company to providing information about ancestry and ancestry alone.
23andMe had failed to communicate with the agency and meet their compliance standards – leading their health analysis to being terminated due to the USFDA’s growing concern of inaccurate results — and the consequences that come with it.
And while its popular ancestry product has brought us hundreds of heartwarming stories, like this man who gained an entire family from conducting the test, Wojcicki founded 23andMe with a higher purpose in mind.
She and her company were in a difficult spot. Following the moratorium, sign-ups had dropped by more than 50 percent. The company was barely surviving on their ancestry services. This was a sink-or-swim moment.
But Wojcicki was a challenger, and 23andMe was a challenger brand. She started the company with a vision, and she wasn’t going to separate what they were doing from why they were doing it. This was simply another problem she had to solve – and when you have an inspiring idea, nothing is insurmountable.
If 23andMe was going to survive, Wojcicki would have to find a way to cut through the red tape. With her back against the ropes, she and her team began working closely with the FDA.
Two years later, in 2015, the FDA granted 23andMe approval for a different kind of testing. This test would be focused on “carrier status” reports, which tell you if you have a copy of a mutated gene for a disease like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. The mutation would not affect the consumer directly, but it could affect their future children. Still, 23andMe was not authorized to tell the consumer about their personal risk.
A far cry from the 254 tests the company used to offer, the FDA decision was a still victory for 23andMe. It was the first step in the right direction, albeit a small one.
Determined to lift that bar even further, the 23andMe team continued to work closely with the FDA, and earlier this year that hard work was finally rewarded.
On April 6, 2017, the FDA came out with a press release allowing the marketing of 23andMe Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) test for 10 disease or conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
This was a groundbreaking moment. The first direct-to-consumer test authorized by the FDA that provides information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions.
Until that moment, the only way for people to get such genetic tests was to see a medical professional. Now, 23andMe consumers can log in to an online account and see their report and its interpretation. Behaviors were being changed.
Wojcicki discovered that she had to work with the FDA, rather than against them, to really drive that change. And in doing so, she proved that there is a market for direct-to-consumer health care.
The door is now open. The FDA has established new and less rigorous guidelines for approving at-home genetic testing, which will allow other direct-to-consumer health companies to enter the market with less resistance. Plenty of competitors are already waiting in the wings.
Today, the company is still growing rapidly. Its products have been used in several research projects, including studies on female fertility, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and even nail biting.
With a current valuation of $1.1 billion, the company now boasts well over two million customers. This past June they were ranked #4 on MIT Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies List – right behind Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Behavior change is hard to create – but courageous marketers who obsess over helping people make more inspiring decisions and live more empowering lives will stop at nothing to do so.
Anne Wojcicki is that type of inspiring action marketer.
That’s why 23andMe is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Month!
In the past month, our country has been slammed by two catastrophic natural disasters in Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. While the storms have passed, the devastation has not. Millions of people have been affected, and thousands are still without food or shelter.
At DiMassimo Goldstein, we talk a lot about Inspiring Action, and there is no action more inspiring than helping people in times of distress. In the past few weeks, we have been inspired by the courageous and empathetic actions that many brands have taken to help those in need. When companies have the supplies and systems in place to respond quickly, they should – and these brands did just that and then some.
JetBlue has capped the fares of flights leaving South Florida and other parts of the country that are likely to see Irma’s fury, helping as many people as possible escape the devastation. These fares are available until September 13th. The company is also waiving fees for changes in reservations to travelers who have had to cancel flights due to the storm.
Airbnb launched their “Disaster Relief Program” in both Texas and Florida. The program, which assembles a list of hosts willing to open their homes for free, has helped thousands of people looking for emergency shelter following the hurricanes and flooding.
Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile have all waived overage charges for calls, texts, and data for its customers in Florida, helping people connect with family, check for weather updates, and follow the coverage of the storms on their phones.
Walmart has donated a total of $30 Million in relief for both Harvey and Irma. The company has also shipped thousands of trucks loaded with emergency supplies like water, batteries, generators, food, and first aid kits to hurricane impacted areas. Walmart will also match any donation that customers make at any Walmart or Sam’s Club.
Google provided real-time road closure information in its maps platform, which helped thousands as they had to make split decisions evacuating cities. The company also created a “digital survival kit”, pulling together about 20 mobile apps to help Floridians make it through the storm. The collection of apps included Hurricane Tracker, Family Locator, American Red Cross, GasBuddy, The Weather Channel, and Zello, which received six million users in one week as Florida prepared for the Hurricane.
After receiving requests for help, Tesla pushed a software update for those in evacuation areas that increased the battery capacity of some Model S Sedans and Model X SUVs, allowing the cars and those driving in them to go 30 to 40 miles farther on a single charge.
These companies showed love, courage, and understanding. They didn’t wait to react. They sacrificed sales and revenue to help others. They understood their power and responsibility, and used it to implement real on-the-ground solutions to acute and urgent needs.
Now that’s #inspiringaction!
Sallie Krawcheck had an inspiring idea:
Create a robo-advising platform specifically designed for women.
Like most inspiring ideas, it came from true aspiration — and few things mobilize and stimulate humans more than true human aspirations.
That aspiration? To help close the investment gender gap. But to truly understand the roots of Krawcheck’s aspirations, you must first understand her background.
As the former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and the CFO of Citigroup prior to that, Krawcheck spent much of her career being the only woman in the room. Finance is a “for men, by men” industry, and few people in the world have been as exposed to — or as outspoken about — that disparity as much as Krawcheck.
In regards to Wall Street’s unofficial mascot, Krawcheck asks Forbes, “Does it get any more male than that? Maybe a snake.”
The quantitative research is staggering. Just 16 percent of the nation’s 311,000 financial advisors are female. Due to this imbalance, investing is tailored towards men’s interests, leading women to put their money in the bank rather than invest it. Seventy-one percent of all assets controlled by women are held as uninvested cash.
To Krawcheck, this translates to “us boss ladies missing out on major market-gain opportunities and losing out on inflation.”
The reality is that the financial industry does not favor women. It doesn’t speak to their unique financial needs, or address their goals, or speak their language. Women aren’t as interested as men in “beating the market.” Instead, they prefer to think of their investments in terms of goals, like buying a home, starting a business, or paying off a student loan. And as a result, far too many women are sitting on the sidelines instead of making their money work harder for their dreams.
Frustrated and determined to make a difference, Krawcheck had her insight: Make investing seem like a game worth playing by making it appear less like a game.
In 2014, she put that insight to action by launching Ellevest, a female-focused robo-advising platform.
Unlike other robo-advising platforms, Elllevest puts women first. Krawcheck and her team spent over 100 hours interviewing women to ensure that the entire user experience was geared toward the way women think about their money. It connects with the female investor on a deeper, more psychographic level by putting a hyper focus on the realities of being a woman — for example, the greater likelihood of women taking time out of the workforce. Or the fact that their salaries, in general, tend be lower over the course of their careers despite peaking earlier than men’s. It considers the five extra years of a woman’s lifespan when planning for retirement. All of these factors should have a strong influence on investing strategies, and yet Ellevest is the only company making an active effort to recognize them.
And it’s working. This past March, Ellevest had over 3,000 accounts with $18 million in assets.
Krawcheck has created a brand that allows women to inspire action in themselves. She has given her consumers a self-actualizing experience, and nothing is more valuable to a consumer today. Opening an account with Ellevest means investing in yourself. It’s a company on an inspiring mission to close the investment gender gap, and women want to be a part of that story.
That’s why Ellevest is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Month!
In the latest episode of “The A-List” podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann is joined by the hilarious Roger Camp, Partner and Chief Creative Officer of San Francisco based Camp+King. During his 20+ years in advertising, Camp has been awarded every major creative award under the sun and has worked on some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Amazon, Nike, Virgin Atlantic, Coca-Cola, and Adidas. He’s about as A-list as they come.
Tune in to hear all about how Camp likes to get naked with his dad, the three-fail rule, how to make brands and businesses conversation worthy, and much much more. Full episode and show notes below!
- [0:00 – 1:36] Intro
- [1:37 – 7:08] Roger talks about growing up in Jersey, getting naked with his salt of the earth father, and his childhood aspirations of becoming an artist
- [7:09 – 10:24] Attending SVA and falling in love with advertising
- [10:25 – 19:30] The importance of being able to make mistakes, Roger’s first ads, and working on Comedy Central
- [19:31 – 22:48] Heroes in the industry, getting fired, and the power of remaining optimistic
- [22:49 – 27:53] Roger discusses his short stint at BBDO and finally getting a gig at Cliff Freeman & Partners
- [27:54 – 31:28] The culture at Camp + King and the importance of working with people you like
- [31:29 – 35:54] The importance of a brand voice and more advice for young writers
- [35:55 – 37:44] Brand behaviors
- [37:45 – 41:59] Cliff Freeman’s “Cliffisms”
- [42:00 – 49:00] Working at Wieden+Kennedy, the actors strike, and the value of a planner
- [49:01 – 51:49] The Camp+King positioning and being conversation worthy
- [51:50 – 52:41] Outro
“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter.
Brands and businesses are stubborn.
And why wouldn’t they be? They’re run by humans, and we’re the most stubborn species of all.
We don’t just hate change, we loathe it. We run the other way and resist it at all costs.
And businesses, like humans, are also creatures of habit. They love their routines, and when successful, they love them even more. In these routines, they’re safe – so they repeat them until they become automatic.
But this behavior is dangerous, and for businesses, it’s downright deadly.
By nature, CEO’s and CMO’s fixate on control, and change is the antithesis of control. It brings upon the very thing they work so hard to avoid: uncertainty. It can mean abandoning the strategies and practices that got them where they are today – and worst of all, it almost always means more work.
But the world is changing, and to be successful, your brand and business must change with it.
It’s how IBM, a company that was selling cheese slicers 106 years ago is now leading the conversation on Artificial Intelligence.
It’s how Marvel, a comic book company that went bankrupt in 1996, now has two of the top ten highest grossing films of all time.
It’s how our inspiring client, Weight Watchers, transformed from a weight loss brand to a vibrant community of empowered members to achieve seven straight seasons of growth.
And it’s how The New York Times, a publication founded in 1851, is topping the podcast charts with its sponsored program, The Daily.
You may call these companies game changers, and that’s fine – but the truth is they didn’t change the game, they just reacted more quickly than their competitors when the game itself changed.
So how’d they do it?
They took actions. Brave and courageous actions in the face of discomfort. They opened doors their competitors wouldn’t – and most of those competitors are still locked out.
They hired planners – planners who became obsessed with the future. They examined trends and thought flexibly. They kept their eye on the bigger picture, when everyone else was focused on the smaller portraits of the present.
The unknown isn’t safe, but it’s where you need to play if you want to win.
So think ahead. Imagine possibilities that seem decades and decades away. The way you think consumers make decisions today will be different than the way they make decisions tomorrow.
Become a leading brand of 2020.
Take action. Define the alternative future you exist to prevent.
Facebook is thirteen years old.
So it’s not exactly breaking news that we live in a direct-led and socially connected world. We’ve been living in it for over a decade now. It’s not going to change our lives; it already has. The way we talk. The way we think. The way we act. As people. As consumers. And, for those paying attention, as brands.
Even the line between brand and consumer is becoming blurred. With brands like Lyft and Airbnb, the platforms themselves have become communities where brand values and benefits are communicated through daily interactions, rather than through headlines. Actions, not ads, have become the coin of the realm.
46-inch TVs sitting in living rooms have become 7-inch smartphones constantly moving. From couch to desk to coffee shop to grocery store. From Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to Instagram to Snapchat. Seamlessly. “Word of mouth” has become “likes,” “shares,” “comments,” and “snapchat follows.”
People are literally carrying your brand around in their pockets. So it makes sense that marketing has become more personal. Now, more than ever, people want to be a part of the brand. They expect to have a voice.
And this is why we invented The Selfifesto® – a new and innovative co-creation process that puts your brand’s most devoted fans at the center of the process to bring the brand truths to life.
Tapping into today’s selfie-culture, we ask brand loyalists to record videos of themselves on their smartphones. Then we package the video into an ad where they become the stars. We provide the brief, strategy, concept, scripts, and editing, but each consumer is their own director, actor, and camera operator. An ad co-created between the brand and consumer. It’s not just our campaign; it’s theirs as well.
In return, the brand develops a greater understanding of their target audience, increasing customer satisfaction through the back-and-forth interaction. A community is built, and engagement is only further intensified when the superstars themselves spread the spots online.
It’s an experiment we first tried with WeightWatchers a few months back, and then again with Affinity Federal Credit Union. Real customers with real stories… a celebration of their success with the brands, all for a fraction of typical production costs.
No one knows your consumers better than they know themselves, and when you give them the voice they want and invite them to join the conversation, some amazing things can happen. Remember, a brand is not what you tell people it is. A brand is what people tell people it is.
If you want to learn more about how we can do this for you and your brand, we’d love to talk. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more on The Selfifesto®.
In this week’s episode of “The A-List” podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein Chief Creative Officer Tom Christmann chats with the brilliant Kash Sree, Group Creative Director at gyro New York. Kash has worked at many of the top agencies across the world, from SS&K to Perreira & O’Dell, JWT, BBH New York, and Wieden + Kennedy. Working on such global accounts as Vaseline, DeBeers, Axe, Nintendo and Nike, Kash has helped create some of the industry’s most iconic campaigns, including Nike’s “Hackeysack” spot with Tiger Woods. Kash was also the recipient of an Emmy and a Cannes Grand Prix for his inspiring work on two different Nike campaigns in the same year.
Tune in to hear Kash discuss his journey from martial arts teacher to art director to copywriter, what he looks for in creative talent today, and why kindness – to yourself and others – is key. Full episode and show notes below!
- [0:00 – 1:55] Intro
- [1:56 – 7:42] Growing up in East London, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken every day, and trying not to be noticed at school.
- [7:43 – 10:20] Working as a kung fu instructor and trading in martial arts for design school
- [10:21 – 18:19] Beginning his journey into advertising and proving his professor wrong
- [18:20 – 20:52] The importance of research in being a great creative and making a great ad
- [20:53 – 30:05] Getting fired from Ogilvy after 5 months and moving to Singapore
- [30:06 – 34:22] Learning to stand up for his work and switching from art direction to copywriting
- [34:23 – 39:05] Getting a crash course in advertising
- [39:06 – 44:09] Seeking inspiration in culture and applying lessons from martial arts to advertising
- [44:10 – 50:12] “Staying stupid” to avoid bad briefs
- [50:13 – 61:43] Being motivated by fame, getting sued and winning an award
- [61:44 – 69:42] How today’s creatives can impress Kash
- [69:43 – 71:06] Outro
“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at AdhouseNYC.com.
Five years ago, Randy Heath and David Goldberg stumbled upon a quote that would change their lives forever.
“Socks are the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.”
Not coats. Not gloves. Socks. The very same items that we subconsciously put on every single morning also happen to be a luxury to millions of people in need. Socks are what’s called a “wear through” item, which means that you cannot donate used pairs due to hygenic issues. This makes sock donations particularly difficult, putting them in high demand in homeless shelters across the country.
Surprised and upset by this heartbreaking insight, the two began to brainstorm. They wanted to help bring awareness to this under-publicized issue. They wanted to make a change. They wanted to inspire action.
So they did just that. They quit their jobs and launched Bombas, a sock company built from the ground up with an inspiring idea above commercial intent. To help the over 560,000 homeless people in the United States, Bombas would use the same buy-one-donate-one model made famous by TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker to help deliver to those in need.
But a brand is only as strong as the product and experience it delivers. If Heath and Goldberg were to succeed, they would need to design a product that was superior to whatever was already offered in the marketplace.
They spent over two years on research and development, studying the industry, experimenting with countless fabrics, and dissecting every pain point associated with socks.
The result was a perfectly engineered sock, with every minute detail designed with the consumer in mind — perfect for both athletic performance and leisure.
But the needs of the homeless and the needs of the Bombas consumer are very different. With that in mind, Heath and Goldberg reimagined the structure of their donation sock. The donation sock is engineered with reinforced seams for greater durability and a longer lifespan. It contains an anti-microbial treatment that prevents the growth of fungus and odors, and the socks are in darker tones to show less wear and tear. The refashioned sock is a testament to Heath and Goldberg’s commitment to fight homelessness with innovation and further solidifies Bombas’ reputation as a brand that’s driven by purpose rather than profit.
Stitched inside every Bombas sock is the brand’s mantra “Bee Better.” The name Bombas is derived from the Latin bombus, which means bumblebee. Bees are small, but together, they can make a huge impact. Bombas is no different, and the mantra serves as a constant reminder that we are all connected, and that even the smallest of actions can make a big difference.
Anxious and excited to share their product with the world, they went to market with the goal of donating 1,000,000 socks by 2024 – but it took just two years.
Word of their inspiring brand story spread like wildfire, and people flocked to be a part of it. It was human to the core, and consumers felt emotionally connected to the brand’s purpose and mission. It’s much more than just a pair of socks. It’s an experience that leaves you feeling impassioned, rewarded and inspired.
Today, Bombas has donated 2,287,666 socks to charity – a number that rises by the thousands with each passing day.
2,287,666 random acts of kindness. 2,287,666 inspiring actions.
That is why Bombas is our inspiring action brand of the month!