Arthritis affects 1 in 5 people in Ireland, their families and friends. It is the biggest cause of workplace absenteeism in Ireland accounting for 7m lost days per annum and 30% of the €943m social welfare bill faced by the Irish government. Despite this, arthritis faces an image problem amongst the general public and many common misperceptions pervail. Arthritis is not seen as a serious illness along the lines as cancer, obesity or diseases affecting children and young adults. As a result of this image, arthritis is not seen as a serious cause worth supporting or fundraising for amongst the general population and amongst the health system in Ireland. This image or perception problem is not unique to Ireland so the hypothesis is that a solution to address this issue that works should have widespread, European and worldwide implications and value. The presentation entitled “Tackling the image issue of RMDs through Marketing” aims to take you through the process that Arthritis Ireland, the national charity and patient organisation in Ireland, adopted to tackle this image issue head on and make a positive impact on their fundraising efforts and ability therefore to fund future services. The area of arthritis is no different to any brand, product or service when it comes to creating or changing an image amongst the general public. As with all good marketing campaigns, the first step was to identify the issue creating the problem in the first place. This revealed that whilst awareness of arthritis as a condition is high, understanding of it as a serious chronic disease with very serious health and emotional impact, is very low. Secondly, a complete review of the image and perception that arthritis has was carried out and consumer insights gained into the real impact of the disease. From this review, Arthritis Ireland updatred their logo and strapline to reflect the key insight gained, that was that “Little things make a Big difference”. Its the little things that the general population take for granted that has a real impact on people with arthritis. Little things such as opening a jar in their kitchen to tying their shoe lace, take a lot longer than normal. It can often be viewed as an invisible disease and therefore compunds the lach of empathy one has for a perosn living with the disease versus other well supported or understood diseases. Arthritis Ireland, through investment in marketing tools such as TV, radio, printed materials as well as social media has commenced the long journey of changing this image in Ireland. The presentation will outline some of the marketing tools used, their impact and also draws on exaamples outside the health sector to support the approach taken. This approach to tackling an image problem also requires the right people with the right skill set and the speaker will outline that whilst this approach is making a difference, it is a long journey that can easily be transferred to other countries.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared