Expressions of Rage? Or Inspirational Pep Talks? Whatever You Call Them, Hospital Ads with an Aggressive Stance Could Make Your Market Sit Up and Take Notice

August 6, 2019

Notable Health Care Advertising

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinFighting words and images may be just the thing some hospitals need to break through the miasma of inattention.

In an upcoming issue of this publication, a fellow contributor, James A. Gardner, will write about a campaign for the Canadian pediatric hospital, Sick Kids. The campaign notably uses angry-sounding rap music, images of kids smearing warpaint on their faces, and a variety of adult combat scenes to rail against childhood afflictions. These range from cystic fibrosis, to autism, to cancer.

Twenty-five years ago, this kind of hospital advertising might have been perceived as teetering on the edge of bizarreness. Today, it instead seems to be part of a trend. Among ad campaigns that use testimonials, or humor, or straightforward capabilities-and-outcomes-based presentations, make room for a new category. But what to name it?

A Trend in Search of a Name

Brad Fixler, vice president of marketing at University of Colorado Health

Brad Fixler, vice president of marketing at University of Colorado Health

My immediate instinct was to call it “rage-based advertising,” perhaps because its attitude brings to my mind the 1947 Dylan Thomas poem that begins: “Do not go gentle into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

But others, like Brad Fixler, vice president of marketing at the University of Colorado Health, insist it’s not rage, but something else. UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital ran a campaign in 2014 and 2015 that took a somewhat similar aggressive stance.

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