When first working on the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System business I thought I was going to dislike the category. Now I’m a fan. Perhaps I was conditioned to think healthcare was bad and unexciting because the ads were so bad. My agency, Welch Nehlen Groome, made recommendations to North Shore to manage the brand as if a consumer packaged good: land on a strategic idea, organized it, stick to it and use the it to manage the client. The approach paid off. In our market “Setting new standards in healthcare”- a promise every healthcare provide would aspire to – was better known than “the best cancer care anywhere” the promise of Memorial Sloan Kettering.
What turned me around on healthcare was the depth and complexity of the sell. It offered very fertile ground for connecting with consumers. If you did your homework, you could hear great stories about the human condition. Talk about finding the pain? Stories about relationships, e.g., caregiver, doctor patient, etc. Even stories about heroism. Then there was the science side of the storytelling. What the docs did. The role of diagnosis, R&D, the team. Suffice it to say a lot of info could go into the making of an ad.
The Hospital For Special Surgery ran an ad in the NY Times today that is half brilliant. The headline is “Our doctors work hard to perfect joint replacement. Our scientists work hard to prevent them.” Buried in the copy are no less than 5 awesome stories waiting to be told — waiting to convince people to jump in their cars to go to HSS. But the stories won’t be read; the headline was either written by a tyro or a beat down writer too busy to connect. Too busy to change or save a life. When we get advertising right in the digital age, those five stories will be linked web videos. In print, they will be underlined and printed in blue to let readers know there is multimedia attached. When we get advertising right in the digital age, we will write headlines that jab us like a needle. Peace!