It’s Not Your Usual Hospital Advertising Target Audience. Or Message. Or Media Plan. So What is Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Ad Campaign Up To?

January 23, 2020

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinSometimes there’s more to hospital advertising than recruiting and reassuring patients.

One thing’s fairly certain. When a hospital with facilities that are pretty much limited to the Boston area starts advertising in New York and other major metropolitan centers around the nation, they must be doing something other than trying to recruit patients.

The hospital is the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which treats 22,000 new patients every year and sees a total of about 76,500 patients annually, mostly on an outpatient basis. The advertising, more science-oriented than most of the hospital advertising you’ll see in general consumer media, talks about Dana-Farber’s role in discovering PD-L1, a protein that blocks the immune system from attacking cancer cells — which led to the subsequent growth of immunotherapy in treating cancer around the world.

Not Designed for Joe Six-Pack

The audience? That’s where things get just a little bit, umm — well, let’s call them semi-cryptic. For sure, finding potential patients is nowhere near the top of the list. There’s separate advertising running in the Boston area, in partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and with Boston Children’s Hospital, to take care of that.


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