Covenant HealthCare Turns to an Almost-Forgotten TV Format to Introduce a New Kind of Health Care Delivery System

May 9, 2018

Notable Health Care Advertising

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinFor readers younger than 45 or so, this story requires a bit of history.

In the 1960s, the “slice of life” TV commercial (or “slice” for short) dominated America’s TV screens. The formula, most often used to sell detergents, toothpaste, food products, and other packaged goods, worked this way:

A problem, not terribly grave, got raised in a 30- or 60-second mini-drama. For example, “Darn! I just washed this blouse, and it still looks dingy.”

A solution — a product — was proposed by a friend, family member, or some kind of “expert,” who might, depending on the problem, be anyone from a quirky plumber pitching Ajax cleanser to a butcher touting Shake ‘n Bake. A demonstration in the middle of the teleplay exhibited how or why the product worked. And then there was often a little dramatic finale, after which everybody presumably lived happily ever after.

Most of these slice-of-life spots were notoriously hokey. But there were only three networks getting the bulk of the attention in most markets, and TV remote controls were yet to arrive. That may be why most people chose to sit through the advertising, rather than get up from the couch to rotate the channel knob, adjust the rabbit ears atop the TV, and see what else was doing.

The “slice” format hung on stubbornly through the 1980s, but by 1990 it was pretty much history. You can see some examples of the genre here:

Now the slice-of-life format, revised and updated, has emerged in a compelling (and very funny) TV spot for three-campus, 643-bed Covenant HealthCare of Saginaw, Michigan. Its purpose is to begin familiarizing potential patients with Covenant “VirtualCare” medical consultations over the internet.

Enter a new kind of problem-solution slice of life.

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