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Highmark uses humorous approach to "nudge" people into getting recommended cancer screenings

Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH (May 25, 2016) — Highmark Inc. is using humor to catch people's attention and urge them to creatively "nudge" their family and friends to get cancer screenings. The fun, lighthearted "Nudge-Kit" housed at provides users with hundreds of interactive ways to subtly, and not so subtly, pester, nag and nudge those they know and love to prioritize their health. The campaign proved so successful in its initial roll-out that it will launch June 1st in all Highmark markets in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware.

People can select among video nudge-o-grams, nudge notes, coupons and bribes and social nudges. Or, they can use the gallery of "nudge-spirations" as a jumping off point to create their own. Nudges can be customized with personal video, photographs and special effects for more meaningful connection. The Nudge-Kit website makes it easy for people to share nudges by email and text, or by social media to extend a nudge beyond the original recipient. Nudges lead back to the website so recipients can create and share their own nudge.

"We thought long and hard about whether humor was the right approach to take in discussing a serious topic like cancer," said Cindy Donohoe, senior vice president of marketing. "Yet what's not funny is that one in three people put off getting screened for cancer even though many cancers have a survival rate of 90 percent when found early. Statistics like that told us we needed to shake things up and try something different."

The need for a friendly nudge is real.

  • 1 in 4 women (25 percent) are not up to date on breast cancer screening.
  • 2 in 5 adults (40 percent) are not up to date with colorectal cancer screening.
  • 40 percent of women report they have not been screened for cervical cancer.

"Highmark gets high marks for creating an innovative and relevant method of communicating the importance of cancer screenings," said Bonnie Gordon, executive director of Susan G. Komen, Chicagoland. "We all have people in our lives who procrastinate and put off getting tested, yet the most valuable asset in our arsenal for long term cancer survival is catching it early. So I have to ask, who have you nudged today?"

The Nudge campaign website includes handy, concise and downloadable information and tips on how to schedule a cancer screening. It also includes a downloadable schedule of recommended cancer screenings for men and women. Highmark covers most recommended cancer screenings for members at 100 percent.

Highmark worked with ad agency Doner to create the Nudge campaign. The ads launched in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania in early May. In its first three weeks, the nudge-kit boasts a strong 18 percent engagement rate among visitors. This compares with an 8 percent health care industry average for engagements/conversions on a landing page. (MarketingSherpa 2012)

"The Nudge message was born of a simple idea to give people the language to urge loved ones to get cancer screenings through the power and scale of social media," said David DeMuth, president and co-ceo of Doner. "In framing the Nudge experience, commercials portrayed a day in the life of a relatable couple. All of the digital content ('nudge-spiration') was made by hand at Doner."

About Highmark Inc.

Highmark Inc. and its health insurance subsidiaries and affiliates collectively are among the ten largest health insurers in the United States and comprise the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated organization. Highmark and its diversified businesses and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5.2 million members and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related businesses. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:
Wendy Morphew
Highmark Inc.
412-544-3616 (office)
917-697-1782 (on site cell)