Getting Emotional — In an Understated Way — Helps a Hospital with a Good, Strong Reputation Stand Up to Another Hospital with a Good, Strong Reputation

August 7, 2018

Notable Health Care Advertising

How do you stand out in the crowd — especially when your #1 competitor is a world-famous brand? Pamela Maas, Gundersen’s chief business development and marketing officer, was able to overcome this challenge. “It seemed like so many systems in health care were looking and feeling exactly the same,” she says. “We recognized that brand positioning was really about building an emotional connection with consumers.” In Peter’s latest column, we’ll see how a new campaign triggered a deluge of fan mail — accolades from patients who had been touched by Gundersen staff members.

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinMeet Tanner, the star of a TV spot. He’s a cute but very wary little boy with Down syndrome. He clings possessively to an old and partly broken kitchen spatula. Tanner and his beloved spatula are paying a visit to a doctor’s office.

Tanner is reticent. The doctor, a friendly woman, pretends to examine the spatula. Tanner resists this at first, but gradually warms to the game. He helps measure the spatula’s height. Then he helps the doctor out by measuring his own height. When the doctor “listens” to the spatula with her stethoscope, she piques Tanner’s interest again.

Next, the doctor uses the stethoscope to listen to Tanner’s heart. Finally, Tanner looks up at the doctor and for the first time, he smiles. Across the screen come supers that display the slogan “Love + Medicine” and the logotype of the La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Gundersen Health System.

Unlike much hospital TV advertising that is emotional because it involves some life-or-death situation, a series of TV spots for Gundersen achieve their emotional impact through modest understatement.


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