Health is the new wealth

February 24, 2015

Cultural Mapping: Health & Wellbeing

Reebok's "Be More Human" campaign

It’s hard to define exactly what health and wellbeing is. For my friend, it’s encompassed in the Paleo diet she religiously follows. For my housemates, they boast that their ability to crunch 1,000 sit-ups in an hour obviously means they’ve got health and wellbeing nailed (I’ve yet to see evidence of this). Maybe I’m just too focused on channeling my inner hippy, but for me, as long as I feel happy, I feel like I’ve struck the right balance.

However we choose to define it, there seems to be more talk and focus on health and wellbeing than ever before. Health apps alone are set to be worth $11.5 billion globally by 2017 (1). 97% of Mind Body Green readers say that finding happiness is one of their most important goals in life, and this is a recurring trend in many reports, which see financial goals taking a back seat (2). A course that is spawning our future leaders, Harvard Business School’s course on ‘Happinomics’, is oversubscribed, highlighting the increasing prevalence of wellbeing as a subject of governmental policy. We appear to be in the midst of a health and wellbeing boom. But why?

For decades, the “Good Life” has largely been centered on materialism. We’ve seen this escalate to the madness of recent Black Friday Sales and the social media backlash that ensured (Black Friday follows Thanksgiving Day and marks the first day of Christmas shopping with bargain deals in the US, and has since extended across to Europe). It seems our values are shifting from profit to purpose – the realisation that money and material goods alone, do not necessarily equate to a better life.  As James Wallman’s recent book “Stuffocation” suggests, we have a feeling of oppression from our constant need of wanting more things. Wallman suggests that happiness doesn’t come from possessions but from experiences (3). It’s this need to strip back that means new ideals are now informing the “Good Life”.

We’re now looking to the basic fundamentals, of health and wellbeing, to achieve a sense of a fulfilled life. And brands are starting to hook into this notion too. Reebok explores the psychological and long-term benefits of an active body in its new campaign, “Be More Human”. It celebrates everyday people that become better parents, better leaders, better people overall, simply through fitness. Fitness isn’t just about body enhancement here, it’s about life enhancement.

Reebok - Freak Show - Be More Human

Reebok Brand President, Matt O’Toole described the brand’s sentiments by proclaiming that, “We are confident that when we push ourselves, we not only transform our bodies, we transform our entire lives” (4). This idea is further embodied in the brand new “Delta Symbol” of the brand - the three sides represent not only the physical, but the mental and social changes that arise from living a fitness lifestyle.

The definition of health and wellbeing has stretched. It’s not measured by singular acts of food you eat, exercises you do or how you feel, but all elements combined. This holistic approach means that our body is now our capital, a site to be invested in, and has possibly shifted the new measures of success. We now abuse our bodies through exercise not simply to look good, but to feel good, and to do good.


(1)  Global Influences, Trend Snapshots 2015+, accessed 1 February 2015,

(2)  MindBodyGreen, 10 Wellness Trends To Watch In 2015,

(3)  Wallman, J 2015, Stuffocation, Penguin, London

(4)  The Drum, Reebok issues be more human rallying call in new brand video, accessed 1 February 2015,