The Vocabulary Is the Message — At Least in a Unique Hospital Ad Campaign for Silicon Valley

December 27, 2017

Notable Health Care Advertising

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinHere’s a bright idea: Run some hospital advertising that flat out calls your potential patients nerds.

Nah, come to think of it, that probably wouldn’t work, and might prompt some irate letters to your CEO.

Well then, how about offering advice that sounds financial, and encourages people to “go public?”

Umm, that kind of talk, especially coming from a hospital, sounds off-topic and might simply leave people mystified.

But it’s all a bit different if you happen to be in California’s Santa Clara Valley, aka Silicon Valley. Here, the designation “nerd” is nearly an honorific, and feverish dreams of developing a new app or internet social medium, and then going public with a fledgling company, powers the valley’s economic engine.

Julian Hernandez, client engagement director at Maricich Health

Julian Hernandez, client engagement director at Maricich Health

That’s why an advertising campaign created for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center by the ad agency Maricich Health has been able to put a new spin on the old technique of appealing to people by celebrating where they live. The recently launched campaign doesn’t always portray familiar landmarks. Instead, it employs a vocabulary that locals will recognize as specific to their Silicon Valley ethos.

A bit of background first, derived from interviews with Maricich’s client engagement director Julian Hernandez; and with Patricia Porter, RN, BSN, MPH, director of marketing for the institution.

Patricia Porter, RN, BSN, MPH, director of marketing at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

Patricia Porter, RN, BSN, MPH, director of marketing at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

The hospital, known locally as Valley Medical Center, is a 574-bed county hospital considered for its 140 years as a hospital of last resort. Except that “last resort” turns out to have been a misperception.

Hernandez notes, “There’s a ton of innovation and technology happening there.” For example? “They were the first hospital in the country to treat a spinal cord injury with an injection of 20 million stem cells. Their inpatient rehab center is recognized nationally, [and] they are a Level I trauma center.”

Valley Medical Center also helps train one out of every four doctors in the area, and has a superb record of outcomes, Porter adds.

Nevertheless, the hospital struggled with “all the perceptions of what you think of when you think of a public hospital. Think loud, dirt, gang members, homeless people,” Hernandez says.


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