With “Fearless Leader” Campaign, Northwell Allays Fears Through Heroism

June 26, 2020

// By Althea Fung //

Althea FungAs the U.S. emerges from what is likely the first wave of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many health care organizations are launching campaigns to encourage patients to seek the medical care they have delayed. Northwell Health, a 23-hospital system with nearly 800 outpatient facilities in the New York metro area, wanted its campaign to communicate two things to consumers: It’s safe to visit their facilities, and Northwell isn’t just a hospital system, it’s a partner for consumers through their health care journey.

Ramon Soto, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer at Northwell Health

Ramon Soto, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, Northwell Health

“There is an insidious nature to COVID, which is all about fear,” says Ramon Soto, Northwell’s senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer. “We developed a communication strategy that was broken into four phases. The first aimed at educating to build confidence. The second was about the resilience of health care heroes. We’re in the third phase, which is also about resilience, and tackling this fear-based environment.”

In the months since the first COVID-19 case was discovered in the U.S., hospitals around the country have reported fewer visits for heart attacks, strokes, and other medical emergencies. The New York City Fire Department, which manages the city’s emergency medical services, reported an eightfold increase in cardiac arrests in which the person could not be revived in their home.

Such grim outcomes, Soto says, called for an opportunity to be unique.

“Right now, every brand is a health care brand,” he says. “How many times can you turn on the TV and see an automobile or a phone company have a nurse or doctor wearing a mask and saying, ‘We’re going to get through this together.’ We wanted to break through in a different format and tell consumers that we’re here to partner with them.”

So Northwell and its creative agency StrawberryFrog developed two ads — one that spotlights the many safety precautions instituted at its facilities, and the “Fearless Leader” ad, which turns a young New Yorker into a health care hero.


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