How to Commit Health Care Marketing Heresies for Fun and Profit

July 5, 2017

Notable Health Care Advertising

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter Hochstein“Health care heresies?

No doubt about it. Since April of this year, a New York advertising agency called Brandfire has been committing the advertising equivalent of heresy on behalf of North Memorial Health, a respected Minneapolis-St. Paul area hospital system with two hospitals, some 650 beds, and 100,000 emergency room visits a year. Both North Memorial and the agency seem to be enjoying so much positive feedback (including trade and business press attention) that they plan to go right on being heretics.

Which heresies are they committing?

First heresy: Brandfire and North Memorial have violated the sacred rule that advertising, especially ads about health care, should be positive, upbeat, and, even if humorous, at least not full of negatives and sarcastic complaints from patients.

Instead, North Memorial’s advertising copy is packed with bitter—but funny—sarcasm about experiences familiar to anyone who has consumed health care services. Consider the television spots.

“Take your time, Doc,” says a man in a clinic’s filled-up waiting room. “I’m happy reading this copy of Fisherman’s Life from 1983.”

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