“Expectable” Images Create an Unexpected (and Emotionally Powerful) Hospital Advertising Campaign

June 29, 2018

Notable Health Care Advertising

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinLast month, this column dealt with two advertising campaigns that you’d never guess were for hospitals — at least not until the last few seconds when a hospital logo appeared.

In the interest of population health, one campaign demonstrated how to make a healthy and eye-appealing salad. In TV spots for a different hospital, a nerdy-looking demonstrator showed viewers how to sleep, eat, and exercise healthily. There wasn’t a doctor, nurse, hospital bed, or grateful patient in sight in either campaign.

In recent years, marketing people I’ve interviewed at hospitals and their advertising agencies have more or less said, “We didn’t want our campaign to look like typical hospital advertising, with pictures of doctors and equipment.” And this trend appears to be growing.

Dave Brudon, director of marketing (retired), Michigan Medicine

Dave Brudon, director of marketing (retired), Michigan Medicine

But it’s also possible to make fresh, emotion-tinged, in fact breakthrough advertising that looks precisely as if it’s hospital advertising, with patients in hospital beds, doctors in scrubs, x-rays of internal organs, patients who’ve lost hair to chemotherapy, injured people learning to walk again, even amputees.

Such was the case with a University of Michigan Health System advertising campaign that, according to the now-retired director of marketing Dave Brudon, launched in 2003 and lasted about 11 years.

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