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Kaiser’s new “Thrive” ad puts bikes front and center

Posted by on August 21st, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Kaiser Permanente’s “Thrive” ad campaign is nothing new to Portlanders. They’ve run an extensive billboard campaign throughout the city for months now. One of my favorites features a photo of a bike and the copy (I’m paraphrasing), “The latest in the battle against heart disease”.

Now they’ve made bikes the centerpiece of a new commercial dubbed, “Community Bike” that debuted during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics on August 8th. Check it out:

I love the imagery in this piece (the only thing I bristled at was the sidewalk riding and what looked like people riding the wrong way on the street). I’m glad they chose a city bike with a basket and people wearing normal clothes.

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Hart
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Hart

Nice ad, though I loath Kaiser and big pharma in general.

Jim L.
Guest
Jim L.

Hart-

Kaiser Permanente is not \”pharma\”. It is a non-profit HMO (a health care organization) with rather progressive views on health maintenance and preventative care (compared to the usual health care systems at least).

John Lascurettes
Guest

Yay! A BART siting.

John Lascurettes
Guest

siting = sighting. D\’oh.

Chilly Willy
Guest
Chilly Willy

I always found that entire ad campaign to be especially ironic, since they make it damn near impossible to walk to either of their west side clinics and their bike parking would have to significantly improve to be merely atrocious. While both clinics are located in bike accessible places, you\’re asking to get killed running the gauntlet from the street to where the afterthought bike racks are hidden.

Healthy living, it\’s not just an idea at K-P, it\’s a slogan!

Roger Geller
Guest
Roger Geller

I love the ad. We need to continue to show bicycling as a solution to much of what ails us today.

Another Olympics ad sparked my imagination. It\’s an ad for some big power company that shows outsized light switches in unusual locations. The idea is that we can solve our energy problems with alternatives to coal, oil, etc. Has anyone seen it?

In one scene there\’s a big light switch in the middle of some fields. Once it\’s flipped, there appears a windmill farm. In another scene there\’s a switch in the middle of the desert. Flip it on and there appear a big array of photovoltaics. In the last scene there\’s a big switch in the middle of an urban area. People get out of their cars and off the sidewalk to flip the switch. The commercial ends before the switch is flipped (no acceptable mainstream solution yet to urban energy use, I suppose). But, I was thinking, what if they flipped the switch and the gridlock of cars suddenly transformed into a city of cyclists? That\’d be a good message. Anyone have money for a national advertising campaign, or even a local one?

Ah well, back to the mines…

Statisticista
Guest
Statisticista

Kaiser pioneered for-profit healthcare like big oil killed electric public transit in the \’30\’s. Don\’t really see why anyone should see this as a positive. \”Ahh the bike dollar, huge market…\”. Enjoy.

Hart
Guest
Hart

Kaiser is pretty rotten:

In recent years the organization has come under intensive scrutiny for a series of management, patient care, financial, and technology issues, primarily in its Northern and Southern California regions.

In order to contain costs, Kaiser requires agreement by planholders to submit patient malpractice claims to arbitration rather than litigating through the court system. This has triggered some discussion and dissent. Some cases proceed to court and one argument is over whether the requirement to go through dispute resolution is enforceable.

Kaiser established an Office of Independent Administrators (OIA) in 1999 to oversee the arbitration process. The degree to which this is independent has been questioned.

Wilfredo Engalla is a notable case. In 1991, Engalla died of lung cancer nearly five months after submitting a written demand for arbitration. The California Supreme Court found that Kaiser had a financial incentive to wait until after Engalla died; his spouse could recover $500,000 from Kaiser if the case was arbitrated while he was alive, but only $250,000 after he died. The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights contends that Kaiser continues to oppose HMO arbitration reform.

Patients and consumer interest groups sporadically attempt to bring lawsuits against Kaiser Permanente. Recent lawsuits include Gary Rushford\’s attempt to use proof of a physician lie to overturn an Arbitration decision.

Kaiser has settled three cases for alleged patient dumping since 2002. During that same period, the Office of the Inspector General settled 102 cases against US Hospitals which resulted in a monetary payment to the agency.

On November 16, 2006, Los Angeles city officials filed civil and criminal legal action against Kaiser Permanente for \”patient dumping\”–the delivery of homeless hospitalized patients to other agencies or organizations in order to avoid expensive medical care as reported by National Public Radio\’s All Things Considered.

The legal filings are intended to punish hospitals for releasing homeless hospital patients (often via taxis) on the sidewalk near relief shelters instead of accepting responsibility for releasing hospital patients into the care of a relative, or of a recognized agency.

The city\’s decision to charge Kaiser Permanente reportedly was influenced by security camera footage, allegedly showing a 63-year-old patient, dressed in hospital gown and slippers, wandering toward a mission on Skid Row, as outlined in a 20-page complaint. City officials say that as many as 10 other area hospitals are under investigation for possible future action for this practice.

In 2004 Northern California Kaiser Permanente initiated an in-house program for kidney transplantation. Prior to opening the transplant center, Northern California Kaiser patients would generally receive transplants at medical centers associated with the University of California (UC San Francisco and UC Davis). Upon opening the transplant center, Kaiser required that members who are transplant candidates in Northern California obtain services through their transplant center.

On May 3, 2006, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report which accused the transplant program of mismanagement which resulted in delays for patients awaiting kidneys. According to the report, Northern California Kaiser performed 56 transplants in 2005 and twice that many patients died waiting for a kidney. At other California transplant centers, more than twice as many people received kidneys than died during the same period.

On May 13, 2006, after less than two years of operation, Northern California Kaiser announced that it would discontinue the kidney transplant program. As before, Northern California Kaiser now pays for pre-transplant care and transplants at outside hospitals, as do all other Kaiser Permanente regions. This change affected approximately 2,000 patients.

Two patients have filed personal injury lawsuits against Kaiser and the widow of a patient who died has filed a wrongful death claim. According to the lawyer representing the three plaintiffs, more lawsuits are planned.

KT
Guest
KT

Yeah, Kaiser\’s pretty bad, but their ad is good.

Their ad shows that you don\’t have to drive everywhere; it shows that normal people in normal clothes with normal stuff can get places and accomplish things on bikes.

The guy who runs the stop at the end, though, makes me grit my teeth. 🙂 At least he looked for traffic first!

So, their ad is good as a PSA for cycling by normal people under normal \”Getting around\” circumstances– but does coming from a bad company, is it automatically a bad ad?

Caveat: we don\’t have Kaiser health insurance here at work. Can\’t say whether they\’re good or bad.

Jim L.
Guest
Jim L.

Hart-
Your mastery of Wikipedia research is impeccable (or rather, quotation without attribution?). But irrelevant to what Kaiser is.

Hart
Guest
Hart

But the market they\’re running the ad in is already saturated with cyclists. They aren\’t promoting cycling, they\’re trying to co-opt a cultural identity they have nothing to do with in order to brand themselves as progressive.

Bullshit is what it is.

Mike M
Guest
Mike M

Kaiser isn\’t really any worse than all the other HMOs out there. They do get a lot of bad press, but it is nothing I haven\’t seen elsewhere at other hospitals.

I am happy to see people being happy on bikes on TV. Too many people that I see actually riding bikes around Portland aren\’t happy enough.

shane
Guest
shane

Why do so many people thing non-profit means good or better then others. Our laws are so loose on the definition of non-profit that if an oil company wanted to change their company structure just enough, they could say they were non-profit. We that oil company be good then? I have seen more non-profits, use \”we are non-profit so we can\’t pay alot\” but then pay their middle and upper managers more than their fair share.

— Nonprofit corporations, despite the name, can make a profit, but the business cannot be designed primarily for profit-making purposes, and the profits must be used for the benefit of the organization or purpose the corporation was created to help.

Rich Wilson
Guest
Rich Wilson

I agree completely on the sidewalks and wrong-way riding. It\’s hard for me to enjoy the ad when my well trained cycling gut instinct is heaving.

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

That dog should really be wearing a helmet.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Hart,

I have heard that some bike owners have beaten their spouses, molested kids, dealt narcotics, and committed murder. Following your impeccable train of thought, bikes are rotten and should be outlawed in the interests of justice.

Hart
Guest
Hart

A medical organization that practices body dumping should not be praised for anything else it ever does.

Rich Wilson
Guest
Rich Wilson

They have an online feedback form:
https://members.kaiserpermanente.org/kpweb/grievancenonmedicare/entrypage.do

where I praised the ad in general, but pointed out the sidewalks and wrong way riding. Sorry, I forgot about the dog.

Russ
Guest
Russ

I had the misfortune of having their insurance for years. I\’d go and have to hunt for horrid bike parking only to be told by my doctor that I should \”stop blowing my nose\” because I had a constant nose bleed for a year after a head injury on my bike, so the Thrive campaign is a little more ridiculous to me than the average emo-sucker ad.

The two times I got adequate care from them where when another insurance company was picking up the tab, and you could see the difference in energy and effort when someone else was footing the bill.

That aside, whoever made the ad doesn\’t know a damn thing about riding a bike. It does tell you a lot about Kaiser\’s health care philosophy though: Take care of yourself, because we sure aren\’t going to do it.

E
Guest
E

My co-worker has Kaiser for health insurance through her husband\’s employer. They love it & use it as their primary provider, rather than Blue Cross which we have through our employer. A friend of mine in LA turned down job offers if they would require moving somewhere they couldn\’t get Kaiser care.

Personally I love their ad campaign, though I am unlikely to become a customer. Bringing positive attention to things people can do for themselves is a good thing in my world. My fave is the billboard with a dog that says something about quality friendships leading to long life.
🙂

Hollie
Guest
Hollie

I have Kaiser coverage.

It has often struck me as bitterly ironic, as I\’ve sat in yet another Kaiser doctor\’s office waiting to be seen by someone who will shrug and refer me somewhere else so that I can wait two or four or eight weeks (or never!) to be contacted by the referral physician\’s office, that Kaiser has clearly spent so much time and energy on their \”Thrive\” ad campaign.

Many of my visits to Kaiser have been due to running injuries. In the four years I\’ve had Kaiser coverage, in between waiting weeks and months to be seen, I\’ve had exactly one practitioner who was able to address my injuries in a way that got me running again. They have no system in place for treating active folks and instead seem either dismissive or confused, shuffling me around ineffectively.

I try to ride to all of my appointments. Their facilities are all in areas that are hard to reach by bike due to the location and, in the case of their main facility in Clackamas, are on roads dangerous for bikes. Every SINGLE TIME I ride to a Kaiser office, I walk in with my helmet and am met with incredulous comments by the nurses and doctors: \”you RODE eight miles to get here?! You\’re CRAZY!\” I seemed like the idea one could get somewhere in any way other than a car was never one that crossed the minds of the people who work at Kaiser.

So they can continue to wallpaper the city with as much \”Thrive\” crap as they want: I will see it as disingenuous and until they make some massive changes to the means by which they address the needs of active peope, I will continue to believe the campaign is entirely hypocritical.

ambrown
Guest

Regardless of Kaiser (although the critiques against the company seem pretty valid), and the commercial\’s bad bike-etiquette with regards to the law, I just wish some of these backgrounds were the hawthorne bridge, eastside esplanade and springwater instead of some nameless city streets.

janis
Guest
janis

I have Kaiser insurance and have gotten great care. I do ask a lot of questions though – I think one should be assertive about their health.

As for their locations, yes some are hard to get to by bike (or without a car); however, I go to the one on Interstate by bike or Max and have no problems except the bike parking needs more signage.

Russ
Guest
Russ

I will add, that your experience with Kaiser is directly correlated to the cost of the insurance product you are buying from the insurance side of the MCO.

I\’m just a social worker, so my plan was only the $300 a month one. Health care in this country is dispensed by wealth, and therefore the value of the person receiving it, so your mileage will vary based on the quality of the product you are able to afford – just like any other commodity on the market.

Scott Mizée
Guest

I like dogs.

Ed
Guest
Ed

I work at the Kaiser Sunnyside campus in Clackamas and almost always bike there. So do lots of my co-workers. No, not a majority, yet, but that might only be the case if you worked at a bike shop or Nike or Adidas. I\’m not a \”company man\”, but fair is fair and, for all their faults, the managers have been promoting bike commuting since long before the current ad campaign. There are very nice bike lockers in the parking garage with room for 8 bikes + lots of racks to lock \’em up all around. Sunnyside Rd sucks for biking, but the I-205 bike path brings you right there and might reopen in our lifetimes. Not Kaiser\’s fault that Max construction has shut it down for the time being. There\’s still a halfway decent bike lane on SE 92nd parallel to I205. The Interstate campus, where I also work, is great for bike access and also has lots of racks and lockers. I get to shower and have a locker for my clothes at both locations when I work there. We have active bike-commuter groups and participate in bike-to-work month. As for other locations, aren\’t we all working hard to make EVERYWHERE accessible by bike?
I passionately believe in replacing all private health insurance by universal public coverage, but I\’m absolutely certain that Kaiser coverage and care are in most respects better and more progressive than most of the alternatives. I think it used to be even more so, but the factors making all health care worse and less egalitarian in America are making Kaiser more like the others.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Ed, do you still work there? I have an appointment tomorrow and was wondering if I’m going to have any issue finding a place to lock up near the sunnybrook medical office. Can anyone use the lockers?

Pete
Guest
Pete

Ah, the \”Big profitable companies are evil\” market… brilliant!

bikelawya
Guest
bikelawya

The Ad caught my attention today. This is what ADBUSTERS (Hipster–Death of a Culture)speaks to in the latest issue where there are marketing companies who observe our livestyles only to play up to us by a cut and paste of our cultural desires into their advertising. The article indicates that there are \”plants\” among us who report back to the big ad marketing agencies. You know you are out there, shame on you!

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”…only to play up to us by a cut and paste of our cultural desires into their advertising.\”

bikelawya,

you write about riding a bike like it\’s some sort of underground, hipster club that can be co-opted. That\’s news to me. riding a bike is not some cultural phenomenon, it\’s just a way some people choose to get around.

DV
Guest
DV

I was raised anti-kaiser, sat in a med school group and spoke of the evils of kaiser, and now I work for them. Why, because the foundation of kaiser is to provide affordable, good healthcare that is best for the community and the patient. Although not nearly perfect we are striving to provide affordable healthcare with good service. Every day we work to be closer. Kaiser has set the standards in many areas – research, pediatric care, prevention, childhood obesity care, comprehensive coverage. Kaiser has had electronic medical records for at least 12 years that I know of where they have used them both outpatient and inpatient – a decade ahead of most systems. When you work inside the system, you can see how great the system is. Anyhow, I can go on and on, but my opinion (which doesn\’t change easily) has come full circle with kaiser, so I urge people to not just grab on to rumors and opinions, and isolated information about kaiser, but rather form an opinion of their own.

Enough said, and have a great day in this beautiful whether!

Donna
Guest
Donna

Say what you will about Kaiser medical (and I have plenty from the 4 months I was on it), but the public health/health education division rocks.

Their ads are slick and professional and designed to meet the challenge of countering all the messages promoting unhealthy living that the corporate media shove down our throats day in and day out. I prefer to avoid TV altogether, but I\’m also glad people who don\’t are seeing these ads.

Stochelo
Guest
Stochelo

No health care company should be allowed to waste money that should be going to patient care on parasitic expenses like marketing and advertising. Just the fact that they buy TV time will forever keep me from being a Kaiser subscriber.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Anyone remember an ad that aired a couple of years ago, that showed a lady riding her bike through Ladd\’s Addition? I thought that was Kaiser, too. The first time I saw that one, I said: What is she doing on the wrong side of the road? The next time, I swear, they flipped all the footage, so instead of riding left to right on the wrong side of the road, she\’s riding right to left on the right side. Really kooky.

Refunk
Guest
Refunk

Roger G. @ #6,

The commercial you refer to is part of the \”we\” campaign, The Alliance for Climate Protection runs for Mr. Gore\’s challenge to the USA to convert to all renewable energy sources by 2018. I don\’t think those folks are focussed on bicycling very much, but I like the commercial too.

All you Kaiser-haters,

The Kaiser commercial is sloppy (and not necessarily made by non-cyclists – c\’mon, look around at yer fellow bike users). If it raises public awareness re: bicycling, where\’s the harm?

Against all the bad rap Kaiser gets, Kaiser doctors saved my wife and children – in the face of brainless but aggressive, paper-pushing HMO bureaucrats – kinda hard for me not to be grateful and respect how difficult it must be working within such a massive organization. After a recent procedure, the doc and I spent more time than the just-completed medical process, swapping bike tales & routes after I found his road bike parked in the restroom I changed in.

Pfeenie
Guest
Pfeenie

Public health professionals will tell you that ad campaigns don\’t motivate behavior change no matter how slick and professional they look. It\’s marketing for a product pure and simple. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but our confusion of the two is what corporate media (including Kaiser) is counting on.

A big problem I have with Kaiser (and they aren\’t the only offender), is that they are a completely closed system. For rural areas that means that people may have to travel half an hour or more to get to the closest Kaiser clinic. Plus they won\’t reimburse non-Kaiser providers, so if your kid gets sick and needs care quickly, unless you\’re able to drive them half an hour to the doc you\’re paying out of pocket or taking your child to the emergency room, which we all end up paying for.

Donald
Guest
Donald

wow. suddenly I feel better about having ranted about big media…

sidewalks and sofflaws already having been addressed, my observation: that burley trailer comes with a cover. the mesh on that cover not only lets air in, it keeps debris kicked up by the towing bike\’s wheels out.

K-Man
Guest

\” I’m glad they chose a city bike with a basket and people wearing normal clothes.\”

Heyyyyyyy…. there\’s nuthin wrong with spandex. 😉

bikelawya
Guest
bikelawya

Dear Mr. Maus:

If riding a bike is \”just a way of getting around\” then you should get out of the media bike business. And, with all respect to you, I think you beleive it is more than this, or you wouldn\’t be telling us every day about the artists, the craftsman, the political struggles, and the people who use two wheels for moving, for fitness, and personal expression. I was under the impression that you had some amount of passion in your work, like when the servers screwed up during the NAHBS, and you were concerned and apologetic about not getting the story out. And, that is why I tune into you on a daily basis. However, if all of this is \”just a way to get around,\” then I was mistaken.

I guess Big Media-air time on the Olympics in China and it\’s corporate sponsers- can use any symbol is sees fit to cast it\’s spell, just don\’t ask me to buy into the illusion.

Keep up the good work.

Hart
Guest
Hart

Does this mean that when Kaiser dumps patients on the streets wearing only a hospital gown that they\’ll at least give them a cycle to ride around with?

spotter
Guest
spotter

Jonathan — It must seem no good post goes unpunished sometimes.

Thanks for highlighting this ad. It\’s one of my favorites from KP\’s couple year old Thrive campaign.

One of my other favorites is a poster of a teenager working out with a dumbell. The caption reads: Vive la Resistance!

Hart
Guest
Hart

Resist corporate ***edited by moderator*** ad campaigns.

bill a ma jig
Guest
bill a ma jig

anyone know this song?

me
Guest
me

hart, did you get dumped by kaiser at some shelter or someone you know? It seems to me that you are picking one fact out of many and decided to JUMP on it. According to your un-sighted quote from wikipedia there were 102 of these cases in the US, so obviously its not just a prob at kaiser. Also I believe Jonathan was commenting about the commercial, not Kaiser\’s practices. Your rant on pt dumping may be better suited elsewhere.

me
Guest
me

P.s. Jonathan, good article and I like the commercial as well

Elisabeth
Guest
Elisabeth

Oooh, I love this ad!

If i were a 50 year old couch potato hypochondriac, it might even convince me to get off my ass, be proactive, & go down to the local bike shop!

Hart
Guest
Hart

The facts about Kaiser are quite appropriate here.

RJ
Guest

Nice- except that the cyclists are riding backwards on the sidewalk for most of the video. Statistically the most dangerous way to ride.

BikerinNE
Guest
BikerinNE

Just to chime in here. There may be reason as to why the ad has people riding the wrong way down the street and sidewalks at times. I\’m looking at it logically. One, when it\’s happening, the street is probably closed, and the camera is driving down the correct side of the street; probably to capture a wider shot, to show a larger picture. It\’s an ad, a picture is worth a thousand words. Please, people, lighten up. Think about it. Where is the camera?? Did this person just show up in an ad without a film crew. Damn!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear sometimes i get supider reading some of these comments.

BikerinNE
Guest
BikerinNE

Oh yeah, and would it be more safe for the film crew riding in a vehicle, to drive down the wrong side of the street, or should you have car driving down the sidewalk to capture a simple, yet beautiful commercial??????? I wonder.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

Bike Lawya,
It was not too long ago that riding a bike WAS just a way to get around and I for one, miss those days. When I first moved to Portland over 10 years ago I rode a bike because I couldn\’t afford a car (and I lived right off of Hawthorne becasue that\’s where it was cheap to live. Ha ha, how times have changed!). Maybe I was just so far out of it back then that I was oblivious to trendiness, but it never felt like a big deal back then. It was just transportation. Now it feels intimidating to ride a bike because I fear I\’m making a statement I don\’t want to make or that I look like a poser when I\’m really just trying to get from A to Z. Can we please stop having it be this cultural phenomenon and return to it being just another way to get around? Please?

And as far as Kaiser, I think there is some validity to the criticisms, but at the same time, I am happy to go along with measures that help keep healthcare costs down for everybody. Insurance costs have gone up 15-30% just about every year since I started working it seems like and people bitch about it, but are unwilling to make ANY sacrifices in either coverage or care. We need less litigation, and (this sounds SO cold) fewer kidney transplants. Yikes, I know you\’re going to say wait till it\’s my kid. But you know, I guess that\’s why WE shouldn\’t be the ones making the decisions. I hate to think of the hundreds of people who can\’t afford antibiotics for a curable infection (remember the kid who died from an untreated cavity???) while insurance pays for a kidney transplant to extend someone\’s life five years and costs thousands upon thousands of dollars. Let\’s do some cost-benefit analysis here and see if Kaiser is really so far off the mark. By the way, Kaiser is not my insurance carrier nor do I work for them. For those of you who support the idea of universal healthcare or socialized medicine, Kaiser is the best model for what to expect. I\’d say it\’s not half bad compared to the current situation where so many people are just not covered period.

Sorry for straying so far off topic. This is one of my pet issues.