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September 2009



Excellent article. Well done!

It's unfortunate that so many people (who have commented here) are so emotionally tied to their perceived solution* to our HealthCare crisis that they can't calm down long enough to learn something from the the piece.

The assertion that an opinion on Nationalized Healthcare should not have been posted on this blog site because it's off topic strikes me as disingenuous. I suspect you would have received high praise from these very same people had you written an opinion that reinforced or defended their beliefs.

* What I mean by "perceived solution" is this: The problem we're experiencing is that HealthCare costs are so high that they command a disproportionate amount of our income and can even bankrupt a family outright. Most people jump to the conclusion that the only solution is to make sure everyone has "insurance" to pay for it. It's only perception that insurance is the solution. There are other solutions, but people are so confined to thinking along the lines that have been presented to them that they can't seem to break outside that box.


you're the sarah palin of branding. you're an idiot. the best that happened to you is you're pretty hot. but you're still an idiot. i guess i'm reading your blog as some sort of masochistic exercise. why do clients pay you money?


Eric: I just called my sister, who's a Doctor, in a country (Iceland) that has national health care. Apparently I could get a colonoscopy if I were in your situation.

Where I live, no-one, not even the most right-wing crazies, want to privatize health insurance. Everyone hears the constant horror stories coming from the US about pre-existing conditions, people losing their insurance, or resisting leaving shitty jobs and starting up new business because they're scared of losing their insurance.

The only time I've bought health insurance is when I've traveled to the states, and that's because I've heard horror stories from travellers who've lost many months wages because they were unfortunate enough to break their arm or catch a disease in the US.

My friend is moving to the US in a few weeks. He got a nice job as a Senior Designer at a sporting related company. He told me that the town he's gonna live in doesn't have any black people or weirdos, it's all nice and middle class. My friend is a bit of an idiot. But there's a truth in this. If you live in a secluded society, a bubble, where you and all your friends are covered, it's understandable that you'd start to think that anyone not responsible enough to eductate themselves to the point that they get a job with health insurance (or stupid enough to quit a health-insured job to follow their dreams) deserves everything they get. This is perfectly understandible. Let's just hope that you, or your friends, or your children never fall out of your bubble.



My sister retired from my full time job 9 years ago to help care for a sick family member (our late father). and was able to take early retirement and continue in her company's group health coverage. When she retired her premium was under $200 per month including dental. Now, 9 years later, it is $765 per month not including dental, which she had to drop because she could not afford it. She has since worked part time as a librarian and earns less than the $765 of her premium. The remainder comes out of her savings.

Shortly after she retired, she was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor which is controlled by medication. So now she has a pre-existing condition, and would be unable to buy insurance outside of the group coverage that she has. I do not know how much longer she can keep her insurance since the premiums go up double digits every year. Not only that, but her insurance has gone from having no deductible to $1500 out of pocket per year with large co-pays for doctor's visits. She has had and paid for her own health insurance all her adult life even when she was young.

I believe that we need to have universal health care that includes everyone including the young and healthy. Everyone needs to contribute in order to cost average and bring rates down. Also, we need to remove the insurance companies from the equation, because they are siphoning off money that could be used for health care and they deny claims whenever they can get away with it. She has had to fight with them to get them to pay what her insurance is supposed to cover.

I usually enjoy your articles however the tone of this one makes me wonder if you were the type of person when you were a little girl who made jokes out of big kids who bullied other kids into handing over their money and what ever else they wanted to remain injury free.

Jeff Turner

I really wish I hadn't stopped by to read this. If it is intended as a satirical look at brand extensions by taking a topical subject, poor judgment. If not, well then as others have said - inappropriate topic for a blog about branding.
Or are you trying to reposition the Laura Rees brand as a provocative media commentator? Your rant about Lee Ioccoca and the power of personality in your most recent blog suggests it the latter.
I declare my interests - I am not American, nor do I reside in the US. But between reading your posts I am enjoying watching a rare brave man leading your country and trying to save it from itself. Sometimes its like watching the death throes of the Roman empire without the togas.
Please return to your core brand equity as soon as possible.

Tom H. C. Anderson

@Tim/@P Mann,

It depends on the country. I'm not comparing US to Uganda. More like Sweden, Switzerland, Japan etc. There is no need for anyone there however rich to come here for healthcare.

Naturually there are experts in certain countries. It wasn't many years ago that the USSR had the best eye surgeons in the worls. Americans have traveled there.

One of my family traveled from US to Sweden for a procedure that is done better there than here (our US doctor recommended it and said he himself had gone to Sweden for it).

Though probably not a matter of quality as much as price, even many South American countries draw US customers.

You can't believe everything you hear on right wing talk shows or in the movies. Tim/Laura, please check some real facts/statistics to back up your claims.

P Mann

I've respected you in the past but feel you've ticked off half of your readers with this rant. Probably a good post if you were Ann Coulter or re-positioning your brand toward the right-wing branding branch but feel the Laura Ries brand took serious credibility hits on this one. Would love to see a productive post on what Obama should do brand-wise to bring everyone together to move the country forward and be part of a solution that helps people without putting us hopelessly in debt.

Tim Keating

To Erik Johnson's first post: You misstated a bit there. It should be "Why do so many people from other countries _who are millionaires_ come to this country for health care?" Yes, we may originate some of the most advanced experimental treatments in the world. However, it's way too hard for average everyday people to get average everyday treatment.

To Laura: I had a whole diatribe lined up, but most people have already made the points I intended to. At a bare minimum, this was a shameful dilution of your brand, directly contravening much of the great advice you have given out over the years.

Erik Johnson

Tom- with all due respect, just look at the quality of care we have in America to the rest of the world, especially Europe. Why do so many people from other countries come here for the best care in the world? Competition and lack of Government involovement.

The USPS is set to lose $6 billion this year, with a B. Can you imagine the health care numbers?? And what about the long lines at the post office? I always loved waiting in line, your the next to be called and the person takes their scheduled break and there is one person working and a line of 20 out the door.

We aleady have free health care, go to any emergency room and get the treatment you need.

PS Josh- "health insurance reform" is Govt. run healthcare. It's like when Democrats talk about a "Comprehensive" immigration reform which really means "amnesty"

Josh Henry

Where are you going with this?

Is there a lesson being taught about branding, or is this article more along the lines of the mis-directed packaging article you wrote earlier? I visit your site for insight into Branding. Is this the emotional connection you want to build with those who consume your blog? What's your brand becoming?

Very confused.

PS - there exists no bill or effort in congress or by the current administration to institute any form of government run health care. What is at issue is health insurance reform. If you disagree the health insurance industry needs reform, fine. I suggest you refrain from demonstrating you lack an educated, cogent understanding of the issue by incorrectly describing a health insurance reform bill as government run health care (which is an intellectually dishonest comparison that speaks very poorly of your objectivity).


If citizens are allowed to carry handguns, we might as well make it legal for citizens to drive tanks!

Gabe Palton


Tom H. C. Anderson

Erik, Glad you caught it in time. That specific test, its effectiveness etc. and where it is and isn't offered is a whole different discussion.

I think if you check your facts you will find your quote does not belong to Churchill. Similarly if you check the statistics you will see just how bad our ROI on healthcare in this country is compared to many parts of Europe.


Looks like Sarah Palin has a competitor in the "I'm a political whacko" stakes!

Paul Dushkind

Laura, you should realize that it's bad branding if a blog ostensibly about marketing includes instead a long, strident satire about government health care.

I've long learned to dismiss out of hand slippery slope arguments (reductio ad absurdum). When was the last time anybody made a reasonable proposal, liberal or conservative, without being told, "But by the same logic, you would bring back prohibition"? Or "fascism"?

Winston Churchill was quoting Georges Clemenceau (President of France during the first World War, I believe) when he said, "Anyone who is not a socialist when he is 20 has no heart. Anyone who is still a socialist when he is 40 has no head." This remark is repeated by aging conservatives, ignoring what it says about young conservatives. But in recent years, the neocons, disaffected former liberals, have been discredited, because they are blamed for supporting the Iraq war.

I wish that people wouldn't deny that the President is a socialist. He is, but an exceptionally gifted one. It's not true that he has no head. If anyone can pull off an ambitious agenda, it's him. I hope that he knows what he is doing. What worries me the most about his program is his (conservative) softness on medical malpractice.

Erik Johnson

To Tom Anderson concerning college students with a quote from Winston Churchill...

Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.

What is the value of a life
My mom had colon cancer and it was suggested by her Doctor that I get a colonosopy. I am 31 years old. I wouldn't get this screening in socialized countries. In Canada they don't prescreen men in their 50's!

I did get the screening and the Doctor said that if I had not had the colonoscpoy I would have been dead in 3 years as they removed a golf ball sized polyp.

God Bless America!

Jay Godse

Why stop at health care? Because that is the main branding issue for Obama's brand of "Hope". The economy is in the toilet...no hope except what naturally happens when a country climbs out of a depression. USA is over-extended militarily without any hope of winning any of the wars in which it is engaged....i.e. no hope here. That leaves domestic issues, and health-care is the lightning rod.

Health care is the single issue that will make or break Obama's brand. If Obama pulls it off, it will be the first time since the New Deal that a president has shepherded legislation that took real power from the corporations and gave it back to the people. With 47 million uninsured Americans, and perhaps another 100 million living in fear of a health-care disaster (because they have bad insurers and/or pre-existing conditions), there is a large minority of Americans with a vested interest in Obama's health-care plan.

Going for any additional form of "care" would be foolish, because it would dilute the hope that will come from passing this legislation. Sort of like KFC switching from just fried chicken to baked chicken....


I do see your point. However I think it is a bit too slippery. According to you, when they socialized National Defense so many years ago, socialized health care, shelter care, clothing care, etc. should have quickly followed. Luckily it didn't.

Point well taken. Though something should be done about the raising cost of health care, we must proceed carefully.

Wellescent Health

There are far too many slippery slope arguments out there about letting one thing happen and subsequently causing an avalanche. "Socialist" Health care is alive and well in many very functional capitalist first world countries. Any future attempts to socialize other aspects of life will also be met with great opposition so fearing the slippery slope assumes none of us are that bright.

I am not interested in living in a socialist country, but having roads, water, basic education, sewers and garbage pickup seems to have worked fairly well. Health care fits this model because it is something all of us need, something we can't choose when we need it and often can't live without. More importantly, the costs of it are something that can easily break us if we are hit and we didn't have a choice.

There are plenty of opportunities for capitalism in providing us with things we want. In addition, cutting the costs of health care can make the country more competitive in the world economy by bringing the 16-17% of GDP spending on health care down to the 10% of GDP spending seen in other first world capitalist countries. Small businesses will also achieve better benefits for their employees and that means better, more productive workers. That's good for capitalism.

BIG Kahuna

I like truffles, can we get trufflecare? Boy do I wish I wrote this article, great job!

Tom H. C. Anderson

95% of US College Students Say Healthcare System Needs Improvement:


Ed Lee

hi laura,

i've been an avid reader of your work since i started in PR. i love and to a point agree with what you say about brand extensions but i am having a hard time reconciling your fairly hard line view on brand extensions and this blog post. is "care" not part of the obama brand, and with foodcare, childcare, computer care and even erik's "carcare", are these not brand extensions in the same way that bud, bud light and bud light lime are extensions of each other?

wondering if you could take a few minutes to explain that to a bear of very little brain?



Tom H. C. Anderson

Don't see your point.

Travel to Europe a bit more and you'll see what we're missing.

US also the only western country with a death penalty and the only Democratic country starting wars.

Erik Johnson

What about CarCare? I need a car to travel to work.

This is only the beginning...

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By Al & Laura Ries

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