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A Recent Sampling of National Ads from Major Medical Centers

When I see national ads from medical centers I tend to cut them out and put them on the bulletin board at work - for better or worse.

Consider this post an inside look at the bulletin board at Jennings. Just because I am featuring these ads does not mean that I am endorsing them as quality healthcare advertising. I just think it is helpful to see what's out there - and how they vary in tonality, design and messaging. Take a look below and let me know which ads you find appealing. And please remember, my firm did not produce any of this work.

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketing Community & Blog

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Comment by bob kochuk on April 25, 2010 at 8:35pm
those are some ugly ads that get lost in the clutter, IMHO.
Comment by Jeff Walker on April 22, 2010 at 2:04pm
These are topics we debate here all the time. Referring docs are looking for better patient outcomes, communication back on patient status, and reassurance that their patients won't be stolen.

Patients are taking a more active role in their own health care and research shows that the number of patients that choose their own specialist (against the advise of their primary), is growing.

So you're right that the messaging has to be different to these two groups. And what Joanne was saying is when everyone is flashing the Top doc or Top Hospital bugs and claiming to be world-class, you have to take a different approach to break out. I think it all starts with knowing what your organization can do well, communicating that consistently, and making an emotional connection with your audience. So words, pictures, color and even how elements are organized on the page are critically important.

I personally prefer pictures of healthy happy people. But research tells me that a particular group is more apt to read and trust a message when it's accompanied by a photograph that authentically depicts reality.
Comment by Leala Thomas on April 22, 2010 at 12:20pm
Doctors are not necessarily swayed by glossy ads and I would guess choose their hospitals based on tangible factors like facilities and support staff and location.

So if the ads are for the patients, then they might want to know how experienced the staff is and how comfortable they will be during their stay. Perhaps pictures of healthy people and grandiose words evoke those emotions?
Comment by Jeff Walker on April 22, 2010 at 7:58am
"What message are they trying to convey?"

Theres a good deal of chest thumping going on to Joanne's point; "World Class," "Top Hospital" and "Top Docs." But the essence of all these ads are awareness of a program, service or new facility. In addition, they are all trying to convey advanced medicine and some form of specialized care that only they can provide.

You do bring up a good point, but consider that these ads could have different audiences. For example, one ads could have been created for potential patients and another referring physicians.
Comment by Leala Thomas on April 21, 2010 at 6:50pm
I find all of these to be very interesting ads. However, in my own personal experience, I was given the "choice" of one hospital based on what insurance would pay. It was not the one located in our community or the one with the best messaging. (And I do live in a major metropolitan area.) What message are they trying to convey?
Comment by Jeff Walker on April 21, 2010 at 4:20pm
I agree with you Joanne. I think many health care organizations struggle because they lack a solid brand strategy to guide messaging, and a sharp writer to adapt the message in a concise and compelling way. And why does everyone always present patients, caregivers, or families as always happy and free of health problems? This is one way to guarantee your message gets lost in the marketplace. I think images that authentically depict reality resonate with consumers more readily and bring honesty to your communications. Even with the perfect brand strategy, it’s a challenge to create marketing materials that communicate fact and feeling, information and passion, knowledge and emotion.
Comment by Dan Dunlop on April 21, 2010 at 11:38am
Great input Joanne. Thanks!
Comment by Joanne Cirillo on April 21, 2010 at 10:59am
Love the headline on the Yale New Haven ad. Overall, it's the best ad in the bunch. I agree with Jeff that the simplicity of design is also appealing but the body copy of the ad is pretty standard stuff. I think our biggest challenge in healthcare advertising right now is to break out of our comfort zone with fresh messaging. Children's is a great facility but wow they seem to be all over the place. Lastly, I would beg any client to refrain from 'world-class'. Thanks for posting Dan.
Comment by Dan Dunlop on April 21, 2010 at 9:57am
Thanks Jeff!
Comment by Jeff Walker on April 21, 2010 at 9:47am
Yale-New Haven is my favorite and here's why. The photo is very engaging and the visual hierarchy the designer created leads me through the ad with the least amount of distraction. The headline puts my eyes right at the copy block which is aired out making it super easy to read. The copy gets to the point quickly and doesn't waste my time with information I don't need or care to know. This ad is clean, highly organized and professional – which leads me to believe YNH's heart program is the same.

Thanks for posting these.

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