Since it's 2010 launch, Text4baby, the government-supported public health initiative that sends free tips to expectant mothers, has always had the low-income women as their target demographic. Low income and minority populations still have a disproportionately high infant mortality rate, and texting was chosen as a vector because it's adoption numbers are high in that group. Now a new partnership with health media company Feel Rich and R&B singer Tyrese Gibson hopes to zero in on that population even further. Feel Rich Moms will encourage women to sign up for Text4baby for a chance win a personalized lullaby from Gibson or a year's supply of baby products from Text4baby founding sponsor Johnson & Johnson. The contest runs from November 14 to December 14.
Text4baby is run by National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, powered by Voxiva and funded by partners that include Johnson & Johnson. They've signed up 450,000 moms for their service: an impressive number, but one that falls short of their target -- one million moms in 2012 -- by half. National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition CEO Judy Meehan responded to earlier criticisms about the low adoption by pointing to the data showing that sign-ups are concentrated in zip codes with lower average income and higher incidence of low birthweight babies.
This is the first venture into mobile health for Feel Rich, but the partnership is a natural fit for the one-year old media company, which aims to use social media and celebrity role models "to make every 'hood in the world healthier." The impetus of the partnership came from Feel Rich, which was co-founded by Grammy and Emmy Award-winning producer Quincy Jones III (AKA QD3) and digital media entrepreneur Shawn Ullman.
"Tyrese and QD3, my business partner, were raised by single mothers and a major part of Feel Rich has been focused on making health easier for single moms," Ullman told MobiHealthNews. "When we heard about Text4baby we thought it was a genius product, so an associate reached out to them on our behalf. We asked 'What can we do to help?' They said, 'We’d love for you to help generate awareness.'"
Feel Rich's main project is a multicultural health-focused YouTube network with 335,000 subscribers and over 85 million views. Feel Rich plans to use the YouTube network, as well as their established Twitter and Facebook communities, to get the word out about Feel Rich Moms.
"Most health websites promote going to the gym, buying at Whole Foods or organic stores, but that is not an option for everyone," Ullman said in an email to MobiHealthNews earlier this year. "Feel Rich is health on your terms, fitness in your own style, and food choices that make sense on the streets where you live. We don't use overly scientific information that hugely bores people. We promote health by showing how it will make your game better, your concerts livelier, your grades better, your hustle stronger."
R&B singer Tyrese Gibson's involvement is an example of the sort of star power that drives Feel Rich, which focuses on using authentic celebrity role models to promote health engagement. Gibson has a longstanding relationship with QD3, and both see mother's health as a personal cause. The Feel Rich Moms contest will award one lucky mother with a meeting with Gibson and QD3, likely over Skype, Ullman said. They'll learn her name, the name of the baby, and about some of her values, then they'll produce a video for the song, and also facilitate a live performance.
Feel Rich will also host a citywide baby shower in the city of Houston to promote the contest. The event, hosted by celebrity fitness guru Crystal Wall, will be a party with entertainment and activities geared toward expectant mothers, like "mommy makeovers" and "mommy Zumba." To get in, mothers will have to prove they're enrolled in Text4baby.
Ullman says the audience his company is geared to reach aren't app-users, by and large. For example, some are Boost Mobile users, and many engage with Twitter through texting on mobile phones rather than through smartphone apps.
To enter the contest, participants can text the word “BABY” to 511411, and when prompted, enter the participant code FEELRICH.
"We’re really excited to enter the mobile space through Text4baby and we have some other things planned," Ullman told MobiHealthNews.