Each year, Fashion Week in New York is christened by a stylish display of charity, as a host of celebrities turn out to support a national awareness campaign called The Heart Truth. The featured kick-off event – the Red Dress Collection Fashion Show – aims to bring attention to heart disease, the number one killer of women in the U.S.
"The Heart Truth has played a seminal role in nationwide efforts to raise awareness of heart disease in women, and Go Red For Women is proud to work together toward our shared goal of improving women's heart health," says Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.
The annual fashion show is star-studded and has welcomed celebs ranging from Toni Braxton to Minka Kelly. Media personalities and noted designers also take to the runway, modeling the latest red gowns and dresses. The Heart Truth created and introduced the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002, and each year at the fashion show the hype and enthusiasm is tangible.
In recent years, Diet Coke, Macy's and Subway have all sponsored the show, with their national promotional partners providing branded materials. Banners and signs displaying the companies' support of the Heart Truth are seen throughout the venue. Meanwhile, showgoers receive brochures, pamphlets and other logoed educational items. Attendees are given goodie bags of branded products as well, including the event's signature Red Dress pin.
According to Mariana Eberle-Blaylock, account director of social marketing at firm Ogilvy Washington, the pin has become the organization's most symbolic promotional product throughout the years. "We give away pins at different campaigns year-round, but the fashion show is a big night for us," Eberle-Blaylock says. "Each attendee gets a Red Dress pin and we always secure it to a postcard that lists facts and messages about heart disease. We change the messages to fit our audiences because every race faces different risks."
Eberle-Blaylock notes that Ogilvy translates all of the materials into Spanish, as heart disease hits Hispanic women especially hard. On average, Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics.
"The message is always customized to the audience, but the colors and symbols are the same in order to keep our Heart Truth brand consistent," she says.
Although February is considered Heart Health Month, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute outreach continues throughout the year with social marketing campaigns and events. Red Dress pins, DVDs, cookbooks, fact sheets, posters and other marketing materials are distributed to communities worldwide and the organization grows every year with new partnerships and campaigns – all geared toward a great cause.
"We've been able to reach millions of women with our lifesaving message of heart-healthy living and prevention," Brown says.