Created in 2013, The Red Couch campaign tour advances the mission of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement in central Alabama.
In its second year, The Red Couch will feature a friendly “competition” between local Birmingham businesses to see who can make the most out of a week with the Couch. The winner will be crowned at the 2014 Go Red For Women Luncheon on May 9, 2014 at the Sheraton in downtown Birmingham.
Mission of The Red Couch
The Red Couch is a way for the AHA to engage women (and men) directly and distinctly with the key messages of the Go Red movement – that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and that it can be prevented in many cases by adopting simple lifestyle changes.
By making tour stops throughout the Birmingham metro area during February (American Heart Month), the Couch generates excitement and attention, which is then directed toward the Go Red mission. At each stop, onlookers are encouraged to have a seat on the Couch and share a personal story about how heart disease has affected them or someone they love. The AHA takes the opportunity to engage each participant and spread the life-saving message of Go Red For Women.
Mission of Go Red For Women
Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s national campaign to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death for women – and to inspire women to take charge of their heart health. The grassroots campaign is a vibrant, national movement in which women and men address the risk of cardiovascular disease to women. The local, year-long campaign, celebrated at the annual Birmingham Go Red for Women Luncheon and National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 7, 2014, provides women of all generations with tips and information to live healthier lives.
The History of The Red Couch
A Volunteer-Created Idea
In late 2012, Bethanne Jenkins and Whitney Massey (both members of the local AHA Young Leaders board) were brainstorming on potential “buzz” events to drive home the mission of Go Red in Birmingham. Over the course of the meeting, the idea of a traveling conversation piece that somehow tied back into the mission was born. Before the meeting adjourned, the conversation piece became a loveseat, a red one, that would generate media coverage and attract crowds through multiple tour stops around Birmingham. At each stop, the AHA’s lifesaving message of heart disease awareness and prevention would be hammered home.
The Couch Goes Viral
The media did gravitate toward the idea of a traveling red sofa that engaged sitters with information on how they could improve their heart health. Beginning with B-Metro Magazine’s full page preview ad and continuing with 15 additional media features throughout the month of February, suffice to say…you had to work not to be exposed to the message of The Red Couch and Go Red For Women. Sponsors and tour stop hosts embraced the publicity (and the groups of onlookers).
Recapping the Tour
The 19 tour stops covered a diverse variety of locations. From trade shows to nursing homes, from fitness facilities to hospital lobbies, from TV studios to swimming pools…the Couch went wherever it was summoned. Some of the more public stops engaged several dozen onlookers at a time. In all, more than 110 people shared stories or messages of support on camera while seating on The Red Couch. Several thousand were directly engaged by the presence of The Red Couch and its active messaging.