Viral Marketing in Health: Humana Steps Up

I talked about Humana‘s innovation group a few days ago. They have done it again with two new games. One is on and the other is a Facebook application.

The Freewheelin Cycle Challenge is an online bicycle-racing videogame that matches you and a quirky virtual opponent. To make it to the finish line first, players energize their bicyclist and pick up speed by capturing nutritious snacks, such as nuts and oranges. They lose energy, however, by rolling over holiday junk food, including candy canes, cookies and other sugary snacks.

“The Battle of the Bulge” is an application that will be available at beginning Dec. 24. To participate, users go to “The Battle of the Bulge” Facebook page and answer a few questions about their lifestyle, including exercise and eating habits. Based on the responses, users are assigned a virtual waistline, affectionately called a “bellytar.” The goal of the game is to maintain an ideal weight.

But it won’t be easy. Other “friends of flab” can “fling fat” your way, making your bellytar’s pants literally bulge at the seams. In a worst-case scenario, you could be headed toward an online heart attack. To shape up, simply answer questions about exercise correctly and watch your bellytar shrink before your very eyes. Then answer questions about nutrition correctly to fling some fat of your own.

I find these to both be great examples of viral marketing which Seth Godin does a good job of explaining on his blog. Obviously, there is a long-term objective here which is driving healthy behaviors and positioning Humana as a leading edge company. They also hope to learn about human behavior and understand how tools like these can affect healthcare.

One Response to “Viral Marketing in Health: Humana Steps Up”

  1. You said it, George. As a member of Humana’s innovation center, I’ll be the first to admit that neither of these games is going to solve the world’s health crisis. But we want to have dozens (hundreds?) of these offerings that 1) are fun for people to get into and 2) give us some insights into what they respond to.
    Thanks for the post – always appreciate your support.

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