Carrie Dooher

Photo of Carrie Dooher

Senior Vice President
Washington DC
Posts: 5

Carrie is a Senior Vice President in Ogilvy’s Social Marketing practice. She brings abroad range of skills in communications, law, and public health to her clients with experience in prevention issues related to food, food safety, health, children’s nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention, as well as violence prevention, including juvenile justice and domestic violence.

Carrie currently leads the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Dating Matters initiative, a contract supporting the communications component of a community-wide teen dating violence prevention initiative for high-risk, urban communities. In addition, Carrie leads the partnership development on behalf of two Department of Health & Human Services accounts. She works on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition’s Physical Education initiative, as well as an obesity prevention communications campaign for adults ages 45-60 to increase awareness of personal risk for obesity and support the prevention of obesity and related chronic conditions.

Carrie holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology & Spanish from the University of Michigan and a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. She joined Ogilvy’s Social Marketing practice in November 2011.

Its Flu Season – You Can Take Action: Get a Flu Shot

Dec 10

Its flu season, in case you didn’t know, but I’m guessing you know since if you’re anything like my family, you’ve been struck with a number of germs and bugs over the past several weeks. Head colds and stomach bugs, unfortunately. But, at least it hasn’t been the flu. All of us – me, my husband, and my son – got our flu shots about a month ago, and I’m so happy that we did if it saved us from another episode with the sick monster, or a prolonged or serious one (not that stomach bugs don’t feel serious enough at the time, but you know what I mean)!

More Americans than ever before are getting their flu shot, but the numbers are still low – less than half of Americans got a flu shot last year. There are several barriers to selecting the flu shot, including fear of needles, potential side effects, and myths that you can get the flu from the flu shot – even though you may be sore or achy after, that’s not actually true. And the flu shot isn’t a guarantee. Flu is a tricky little bugger and mutates so that some flu shots are ineffective in preventing it. Last year it was just higher than 50% effective. But that’s still considered successful by the CDC.

I’ve gone back and forth over the years as to whether or not to receive the shot, but for the last two years, I’ve determined it’s better to air on the side of caution, especially with an infant in the house. While I’ve become a little immune (no pun intended) to all of the warnings about the flu, this year with so much discussion about life-threatening diseases such as Ebola, it peaked my desire even further to protect myself and those that I love from the threats that I can impact, like flu. Did you get your flu shot this year?

Vaccines: Is Success in Preventing Diseases Making it Harder to Take Action

Jan 27

As a new mom, I have to admit one of the harder things I’ve had to do was hold my son as he received his first set of vaccinations (and subsequent vaccinations) – to see the surprise on his face and then the tears were enough to bring this momma nearly to tears herself. But we hugged it out, and both of us were on to laughing and playing minutes later. I spent a lot of time reading about vaccinations while I was pregnant and in the first several months of motherhood, and there is a lot out there – do it or not do it? Are they safe? When should you do it? Should you space them out more than is typically recommended? Should you do separate vaccinations or are the grouped shots ok? There seem to be as many questions as answers. But despite the many questions I had about vaccines, I never questioned whether I would give them to my son. I’ve seen the effects of polio for my cousin who had the disease as a young child, and I know the great harm that can result. Rather, my questions stem from what happens to a public health imperative when the perceived risk seems to be fading.

I am fortunate to be raising my son in a world where many health risks no longer exist because we have been successful in eradicating the disease. We’ve moved from a model of intervention (for the most part and in some parts of the world) with these diseases that are inoculated through vaccinations to prevention. But as the perceived risk has declined, so has the urgency to take action. When we have the opportunity for not worrying about an impending outbreak, many start to consider whether the disadvantages (time, money, pain, side effects) outweigh the benefits (immunity). Recently, the Council on Foreign Relations released an interactive map illustrating vaccine-preventable outbreaks from 2006 to the present. It’s a striking visual look at the decision to decline vaccinations and that ripple effect.

This is not a phenomenon that is isolated to vaccinations; in fact this is almost an evergreen topic. For example, applying it to food – when food is abundant, we can be selective about what kind of food we want to eat, the ingredients, the processing, and the packaging. And we can focus on preventing or avoiding perceived risks. But when food is not abundant, the concern shifts more to getting food, no matter what kind.

As a social marketer, this is a dilemma that we do, and will, face in perpetuity. As we start to make progress against public health crises – whether that be through vaccinations, food security, or even violence prevention – and as we continue to shift our thinking and our policies towards prevention from intervention, I leave you with these questions: how do we continue to make progress? Are responses to public health crises cyclical, tied to time and space? Are we destined for a 2-steps-forward-1-step-back model? How does success change when we’re talking about intervention versus prevention? What are your thoughts?

Dumb Ways to Die: A Smart Way to Convey a Safety Message

Nov 29

If you haven’t yet seen the recent PSA video from Melbourne Metro Trains, “Dumb Ways to Die,” you’re missing out. This fun, creative, and important train safety warning is taking the web by storm! In only six days after being uploaded to YouTube, the video garnered more than 14 million hits; today that number is 27,914,061 and growing. As a testament to its success, you can now buy “Dumb Ways to Die” on iTunes and a karaoke version of it has been released so you can sing along or make up your own words! And this is just one element of a larger planned campaign that also includes Tumblr and an interactive site, and a future media spend.

What’s so striking about this short video is that its main message, to promote safety around trains, is not even mentioned until 2:22 into the video: dumb ways to die if you’re not safe around trains. And yet, the message of safety around trains seems to be resonating and in fact it has been called one of the greatest viral campaigns ever.

As Social Marketing professionals, we’re often faced with driving awareness and promoting behavior change around difficult and challenging topics and we’re tasked with encouraging people to make better decisions around their health, livelihood, and their safety. And in order to address these issues with the seriousness that their deserve and warrant, we often forget that sometimes humor is just as, if not more, effective in creating the behavior change that we’re after.  Done well, tongue and cheek campaigns taking on critical issues have been, and continue to be, widely successful – for example, CDC’s successful Zombie Apocalypse campaign for disaster preparedness, which claims that “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.” And they’re often credited with reaching new, particularly young, audiences, a sometimes challenging target for public service announcements and public health promotion.

So, with the catchy tune of “Dumb Ways to Die” still in my head as I write this, where do you stand – should we start taking ourselves a little less seriously? I’m certainly considering it, as just in the 20 minutes writing this blog, the video on YouTube earned another 105,842 views.

A big pill to swallow? FDA approves new diet pill

Jun 29

This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first new prescription diet pill in 13 years, providing a new option for the roughly one-third of American adults considered obese. This approval was covered widely due not only to the opportunity that it provides for some people trying to lose weight to bridge the gap between using diet and exercise to lose weight or using surgery, but also because of the rocky history of diet pills and the potential pitfalls of relying on a pill to achieve a more healthful lifestyle.

With over 1/3 of the American population overweight or obese, is this new diet pill the silver bullet? Or will it still come down to a matter of behavior modification to address this epidemic? With diet pills coming soon to a store or doctor’s office near you, is there still a role for social marketing in preventing overweight and obesity?

For me the answer is overwhelmingly yes. There is no one answer to changing an individual’s behavior to better their health, and ultimately reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity. While a diet pill may aid in weight loss, ultimately it still comes down to an individual’s choice to eat better and get more exercise – the old adage that it’s all about calories in and calories out still applies. So in fact, in some ways, we’re all working in partnership, whether it be the manufacturers making a diet pill or those of us working to affect positive behavior change to prevent overweight and obesity as a public health imperative.

Tackling obesity isn’t just about any one thing or one approach. It’s about changing perceptions and attitudes about health. And for that, it’s all hands on deck!

“Wake-Up Call” Campaigns – Do They Work?

Jan 12

In recent weeks, there have been a number of hard-hitting anti-obesity campaigns making headlines. As Trish Taylor described earlier this week, Georgia’s “Strong4Life” anti-childhood obesity campaign, introduced by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, uses short ads, billboards, and TV spots depicting an obese child and statements including “fat kids become fat adults,” and “it’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not” to urge Georgia to “stop sugar coating the problem.” The campaign was selected for its shock value after research revealed that despite Georgia ranking second nationally for overweight and obese children, 50 percent of the people surveyed did not recognize childhood obesity as a problem and 75 percent of parents with overweight or obese children did not see their children as having a weigh issue. The campaign is planned as a $50 million project over five years, with three phases.

In addition, New York City launched subway ads this week, one of which features a diabetic man whose leg was amputated due to complications with the disease alongside of growing portions of soda and the statements, “Cut your portions. Cut your risk.” and “Portions have Grown. So has type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.” By highlighting growing portion sizes and their potentially devastating consequences, the New York Health Department hopes to urge New Yorkers to be more aware of the quantity of their food and beverage choices. The campaign ads direct those interested to call 311 to receive a “Healthy Eating Packet.”

via New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Both campaigns have been heavily criticized in the media and by health professionals for their hard-hitting approach to raising awareness about obesity because of their failure to follow through on actionable messages and resources. In light of the ongoing dialogue about these campaigns, and our fear that campaigns such as these might deter future thought-provoking, arresting, and actionable public health campaigns, Trish and I have been discussing the value and effectiveness of “wake up call” campaigns. Here is our point of view. Read the rest of this entry »