Syracuse University alum, Sid Lerner ’53 was recognized on October 4th, 2013 for his work in wellness, advertising and philanthropy. Receiving the George Arents award, Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor, Sid returned to his alma mater to be recognized for career excellence, which began during his time as a student in the Newhouse school.
Lerner’s career in advertising includes his work as creative director for brands like Maxwell House, Texaco and the famous “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” campaign featuring the iconic Mr. Whipple. Lerner has also produced six works of non-fiction and was head of his own creative consulting firm.
In his most recent endeavors, Lerner has brought his background in advertising and marketing to public health promotion. Lerner is the chairman and founder of the Monday Campaigns, a non-profit health promotion organization that dedicates the first day of each week to health. In conjunction with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the campaign has grown in the past decade to encompass a number of wellness initiatives focused on helping individuals and organizations start and sustain healthy behaviors.
Recognizing that American lifestyles contribute to the development of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases, Lerner began to think of ways to use his advertising expertise to market good health. Through this lens, he began to think of simple and approachable ways to help people meet the health guidelines of many public health organizations, one of which is to reduce saturated fat intake by 15% to improve cardiovascular health. He calculated that if individuals could forgo eating meat, one day a week, they could lower their saturated fat intake enough to meet these health guidelines and this was the birth of Meatless Monday.
Meatless Monday has attracted global attention from restaurants, worksites and schools in over 26 countries who now embrace the concept. Every week, thousands of individuals and organizations are making efforts to improve their health to reduce chronic disease, promote animal welfare and protect the health of the environment. The Monday Campaigns have expanded to encompass a broad range of health promotion initiatives from Quit & Stay Quit Monday, which supports tobacco cessation to Move-it Monday and the Monday Mile, which promote increased physical activity.
In 2011, Lerner and his wife Helaine, an environmental activist and philanthropist, joined forces with Syracuse University and the Maxwell School at SU to create the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion.