VERB™ It’s what you do.
If you were a tween at the turn of the century, you might remember this phrase plaguing TV screens, magazines, the radio and the internet.
VERB™ was a national, multicultural, social marketing campaign coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite the long title, the campaign had a simple mission: increase and maintain physical activity among youth ages 9-13, an age group otherwise known as tweens.
The VERB™ campaign owes much of its success to social marketing theory and the four Ps — product, price, place and promotion. Much like anti-smoking campaigns, the campaign combined paid advertising, marketing strategies and partnerships to reach a wide audience.
Unfortunately, the campaign ended in 2006. According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, the VERB™ campaign started with $125 million in federal start-up funds in 2001 and decreased annually thereafter. The House proposed $11.2 million to continue the campaign through 2006, but no funding was proposed by the Senate.
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama announced Let’s Move!, a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation. Accordingly, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity and a corresponding report that laid out 70 recommendations. A recent survey found that 8 out of 10 Americans were aware of the Let’s Move! initiative.
However, the difference is in empowerment. VERB™ understood that only kids could empower kids, and that’s what made VERB™ a brand for kids, by kids. Despite this, Let’s Move! took different a different avenue to youth empowerment: parents and older celebrities. Rather than empowering kids to empower each other – the initiative is doing the one thing that all kids hate – telling them what to do.
The VERB™ campaign was ahead of its time. Shortly after Congress pulled the plug, the world was introduced to MySpace (2005), Facebook (2006) and Twitter (2007). With a growing number of child users, social marketing today is more important than ever.
Do you or your kids remember VERB? Will kids remember Let’s Move!?