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Dynamic Chiropractic – July 16, 2005, Vol. 23, Issue 15

Popsicle Sticks

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

Just a few weeks ago, my wife, Evelyn, bought our children a package of Popsicles. The weather has gotten warmer and the kids enjoy the treats on the weekends.

You probably don't know this, but the Popsicle company has begun printing jokes on its Popsicle sticks.

The question part of the joke is printed on the exposed part of the stick, with the punch line only visible after you've eaten your Popsicle.

After finishing his Popsicle, my eldest son, John, brought his stick to me and said, "Hey, dad, take a look at this. I think you'll find it interesting."

Expecting to read the one of the usual jokes, I was pleased to read: Why did the computer go to the chiropractor? It had a slipped disc.

Admittedly, this isn't the funniest joke in the world, but it does do something for chiropractic that we haven't done well for ourselves.

An effective marketing campaign for chiropractic would include the following components:

  • Reaches Your Target Audience - in this case, children.
  • Creates Awareness - to get the joke, kids who don't know what a "chiropractor" is will ask their parents and thus be introduced to chiropractic.
  • Provides Information - the joke assumes that chiropractic is effective for a "slipped disc." Why else would the computer go to see one? This message will eventually be communicated to the child - that chiropractors are good for people with back pain ("Mommy, what's a slipped disc?")
  • Constant Reminder - Every time a child (or one of their friends) sees the joke, they will be reminded of chiropractic and what it's good for.

You might be inclined to react with, "Big deal." But before you do, consider just how many sticks Unilever Ice Cream (the manufacturer/marketer of the Popsicle, Breyers, Good Humor, and Klondike brands) uses for Popsicle products each year: 1.4 billion sticks in 2001 alone.1

Not bad exposure, especially considering that this is free exposure. True, it's not exactly the message we would like to see. But it does open a door. It does make an introduction.

What are we doing that is as effective?

There are an estimated 74 million children (under the age of 18) in the United States.2 That's approximately 1,233 potential child patients for every doctor of chiropractic! If we expect our future patients to understand and appreciate the real benefits of chiropractic (beyond slipped discs), we need to tell our own message.

With four children, I am aware of what they learn in school. At several different points in their education, they learn about different potential professions.

What kind of impact could we have if every DC ensured that the children in their community learned about chiropractic while they were in elementary school?

What would our profession look like if DC presented chiropractic as a potential profession to kids in high school?

Instead of seeing 7 percent of the population, we would be seeing a much higher percentage.

Instead of a profession with 3 percent growth every year, we would see a profession still expanding to meet its potential.

I have no idea how kids will be introduced to chiropractic by those 1.4 billion Popsicle sticks. What I do know is that we have an exciting story to tell of wellness and pain relief without the use of drugs or surgery.

Let's tell that story as often and in as many ways as we can.


  2. Child population: number of children under age 18 in the United States by age. U.S. Census Bureau population projections 2001-2020, based on 2000 Census counts.


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