How Edward-Elmhurst Health Used Influencer Marketing to Speed Ahead of Its Competition

February 13, 2020

// By Althea Fung //

Althea FungIncreasingly, brands are turning to celebrity endorsers with loyal and aligned audiences — and large social media networks — to influence consumer behavior. As social media has evolved, the Federal Trade Commission has also evolved its guidance on disclosure of relationships between influencers and advertisers.

In 2014, Edward-Elmhurst Health, a newly merged two-hospital system in the Chicago suburbs, wanted to find a way to differentiate itself from the dozens of other hospitals in the area.

“We are in a very crowded health care market. We knew it would be a challenge to break through all that clutter,” says Sheri Scott, associate vice president of marketing and communications at Edward-Elmhurst Health. “We ended up creating a brand position called ‘Healthy Driven.’ We spent a lot of time trying to think about where we could take this idea of driving health forward. The idea of a celebrity spokesperson came up and Danica Patrick’s name came up.”

Sheri Scott, associate vice president of marketing and communications at Edward-Elmhurst Health

Sheri Scott, associate vice president of marketing and communications at Edward-Elmhurst Health

Danica Patrick, the only woman to win the IndyCar Series, seemed like a natural choice for the health system. With more than a million followers on Twitter, the Roscoe, Illinois native had the reach and cachet that the fledgling health system was looking for.

Increasingly, brands are turning to influencers like Danica — people who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience — to connect to consumers.

Having a national champion as a celebrity endorser may not work for all organizations. But health care organizations shouldn’t shy away from the influencer marketing space. Here, Scott shares Edward-Elmhurst Health’s experience, and offers advice for others considering this approach. Plus, we’ll look at new guidance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on sponsored content, updated in 2019.


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