Americans spend 95% of their time indoors, according to Bayer-commissioned Columbia University research. And that was the inspiration behind the new Claritin “Be An Outsider” campaign, which urges people not to spend too much time indoors—just in time for allergy season.
Further evidence of America’s “indoor epidemic” is featured on the campaign landing page in a video asking several parents and kids to look up words like dandelion, fern, and pasture in the Oxford Junior Dictionary. But they can't find them. That’s because the words aren't there—some 50 nature-related words including others like otter, acorn and ivy were replaced several years ago in the print book by other words, such as broadband, chat room, analog, and celebrity.
While it’s not the fault of a dictionary with a 10,000-word limit and a duty to relay current culture to 7-year-olds, Bayer sees it as another sign of the problem.
“We are in the midst of an indoor epidemic due to our sedentary lifestyle. As Claritin and being an outdoor brand, this is something we couldn’t ignore and decided we should try to be part of the solution,” Mike DeBiasi, VP of marketing for U.S Allergy at Bayer, said in an interview. “Studies suggest people will start to feel reduced stress, improved mood, and increased energy the more time they spend outside.”
So Bayer hired actor, outdoor-loving and allergy-suffering Josh Duhamel as spokesman for the campaign, and tapped Boys & Girls Clubs of America to work together to create an outdoor activity guide for staff to use at the 4,300 local clubs in the country. Bayer will also donate $5 for every Facebook or Instagram post of fun outdoor moments that include the hashtags #BeAnOutsider and #Claritin, and over the next several years, will refurbish some Boys & Girls Clubs’ outdoor play areas.
Education about the problem was important, DeBiasi said, because before the results were in, even he had guessed that Americans' time indoors would be around 50%. He was shocked with results that equated time spent outdoors with time people spend on personal grooming.
Matthew Neidell, associate professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, said the project began with the curiosity to quantify just how much time Americans spend indoors and how that might vary by region, gender, age and other demographics.
“What we found is the effect is quite ubiquitous. Whether you’re old or young, married or single, rich or poor, whether you live on the East Coast or the West Coast, Americans spend the vast majority of their time inside,” he said.
The campaign comes as allergy season—and allergy advertising—ramps up for spring. The allergy space has become increasingly competitive over the past several years as more prescription allergy medicines have switched to OTC. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the number of allergy sufferers who use OTC meds went from 66% in 2009 to 75% in 2015.