Yes, You Can Brand a Citywide Health Network for a Price Close to Chicken Feed These Days: Do Use Video Graphics and Multilingual Messaging, Just Don’t Use the “A” Word

December 1, 2017

Notable Health Care Advertising

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinBefore anything, Rachael Kagan, director of communications for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, wants you to know that the campaign her department launched is not an advertising campaign. It’s a branding campaign, she insists.

“It wasn’t about drawing more people or business,” she explains. “I do not and will not have an advertising budget. We are a government health care agency, so we really do believe that this distinction matters.”

Okay, I surrender. You won’t see the “A” word again in this article. At least not fully spelled out. But what the San Francisco Department of Public Health has done is worth some attention. It has launched a barrage of communications throughout the city on a tiny budget. The branding campaign required the development of graphic standards, branding language, videos of various lengths, banners on utility poles at 250 locations around the city, posters, brochures, postcards, and promotional patient gifts such as water bottles and tote bags.

Rachael Kagan, director of communications for the San Francisco Department of Public Health

Rachael Kagan, director of communications for the San Francisco Department of Public Health

Total cost? Kagan puts it at $270,000. Yes, that includes video production. Yes, that also includes installing the utility pole banners. Yes, that also includes printing. The whole shebang.

A bit of background: The San Francisco Health Network was launched by the city’s Department of Public Health in 2014. According to one of its press releases, the network serves more than 100,000 people in neighborhood clinics and hospitals in the city.

“The Network welcomes patients with Medi-Cal [California’s version of Medicaid], Healthy San Francisco, Healthy Kids, and Healthy Workers plans. It cares for immigrants and uninsured patients, as well, and provides enrollment services to help them access coverage,” the network says.


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