“Go Red For Women” Campaign: Powerful Ideas and Integrated Communications at Heart

This Silver Anvil winner captured my heart and was the perfect session to end my PRSA 2009 International Conference experience! Jennifer Pfahler, executive vice president at Edelman, shared how the agency and the American Heart Association pumped up the “Go Red For Women” campaign to increase awareness of heart disease among women.

How did this dynamic team pull on women’s heart strings and get them educated about this silent killer? This communications strategy had to be ownable and repeatable with a national scope able to be activated on a local level.


  • Generate awareness of heart disease as #1 killer 
  • Register check-ups on GoRedForWomen.org
  • Raise $180-200 million for research by 2010


  • Limited budget
  • Lofty objectives 
  • Multiple stakeholders 
  • Minimal staff 
  • Close scrutiny

Emotional appeal and rationale were the keys that opened up hearts and women’s minds. With the slogan of “Untold story of the heart,” women who had never had a platform to share their stories of challenge and heartbreak were given a voice.

This 360 degree communications plan included:

  • National Rallying Cry – A casting call brought in 900 women vying for six spots on the AHA center stage to share their stories and participate in marketing elements. 
  • National Platform – The GoRedForWomen.org location in combination with a plethora of social media outposts gave a platform for all women to share their experiences, strength and hope.
  • Grassroots Effort – A strong content strategy included media elements such as the Sperlings Heart Friendly Cities ranking where local AHA efforts could use as news hooks.
  • Fundraising Element

The communications team plus the AHA women spokespersons felt as if they were part of something much bigger than their individual selves…and they were!

The campaign resulted in:

  • 14 billion media impressions. 
  • 96% of women took action after registering on GoRedForWomen.org. 
  • 1.4 million women logged in their check-ups on GoRedForWomen.org.
  • 65% of women are now aware of heart disease as the #1 killer.

Bigger and better things are in store for this year’s campaign. I can’t wait to see more creative and integrated marketing strategies from them. As for me, I think I will log in to GoRedForWomen.org and choose to live and love for more years to come.

(Cross-posted on the PRSA ComPRehension Blog. Thank you to PRSA for inviting me to the conference to blog.)

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