No Hug Your Kids Day? YakaPromises from far away shine on

Michelle Nichols was called this year to prove the strength of her convictions.

Yet even while she stepped back from a much-recognized business startup to care for a family member with medical challenges, a pharmaceuticals company in the Philippines picked up the flag that Nichols had been carrying.

Today was scheduled to be Global Hug Your Kids Day, a worldwide event driven since 2008 by Nichols' Reno-based company, Hug Your Kids LLC. A veteran of sales and business, Nichols lost an 8-year-old son to brain cancer in 1998.

Last year, the day was commemorated with events in 28 states including scoreboard announcements at six Major League Baseball games and more than 100 billboards in 17 cities.

This year was going to be even bigger.

And then a member of Nichols' family faced medical challenges. As an author and a speaker at corporate events, Nichols' message is straightforward: Take care of your family. There's nothing in business as important as your kids, your spouse, your significant other.

The medical issues put Nichols to the test. There was no way she could promote Hug Your Kids Day while giving meeting the needs of her family member.

She pulled the plug on the event, which had included local plans for a gathering at Sparks Marina today. Nichols promises supporters that Global Hug Your Kids Day will be back next year.

But it's going strong this year in a faraway corner of the world.

Last autumn, a representative of an advertising agency in the Philippines found information about Hug Your Kids Today on the Web and called Nichols.

Would she be agreeable to a Hug Your Kids promotion with Pfizer Consumer Healthcare in The Philippines, a campaign in which parents would promise to give their kids a hug and a Clusivol vitamin every day?

Of course.

So thousands of parents in the Philippines have gone to ("yakap" translates into "hug" in Tagalog), and more than 4,100 of them have signed an online pledge to give their kids a hug every day.

Many posted a photo of their children receiving a hug; others downloaded a song or ringtone about yakapable kids.

Hug Your Kids LLC doesn't make a dime from its affiliation with Pfizer. But Nichols, the Savvy Selling columnist for for six years, figures the exposure on a worldwide platform will prove valuable to her work as an author and a speaker.

And Pfizer is happy, too.

"The campaign has been generating tremendous amount of buzz and support among the target consumer (mothers) as evidenced by the number of 'YakaPromises' made on the Web site; and the robust activity we have been getting on the social networking site, Facebook," says Neena Moorjani, a spokeswoman for the pharmaceuticals company.

It's possible, she says, that the campaign in the Philippines might be introduced as a "best practice" that other Pfizer affiliates around the world might adopt.

"The brand believes that the overall health of a child goes beyond the physiological," Moorjani says. "The child must also be healthy emotionally and psychologically and a nice warm hug from his/her parents can definitely take care of this."


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