The Surprising Success of a Health Care Spokes-Puppet
“You can do terrible things to a puppet for popular amusement that aren’t funny when they happen to real people,” says veteran copywriter and SHCM contributor Peter Hochstein. “You can make him horribly ill. You can afflict him with a swarm of bees. You can break off his leg, or worse. Almost no matter what you do, people seem to remember and feel amused by the perils of puppets. So it’s a wonder that hardly anybody has thought to use them to attract clinic or hospital patients.”
Read on for an excerpt from Hochstein’s new article about a charismatic orange puppet named Bebo who has been building traffic, growing positive awareness, and creating a distinctive brand identity for Patient Plus, a Louisiana chain of urgent care clinics.
The market is highly competitive, with four “solid competitors” including one urgent care clinic tied to a major Baton Rouge hospital, plus several smaller actors, according to Ely Thurmond, who was the Patient Plus director of marketing when the spokes-puppet campaign was launched. She currently serves as the clinics’ director of strategic initiatives.
The puppet who speaks for Patient Plus is the product of a collaboration between a Baton Rouge creative studio that, perhaps appropriately for this story, calls itself Tilt, and a local actor and puppeteer named Clay Achee. Achee grew up watching the Muppets on Sesame Street and doesn’t seem to have gotten over it.
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