Economy notwithstanding, there is at least one segment of the consumer market perking along, and it won't hit the brakes anytime soon. It's also a market that nobody wants to participate in as a consumer -- although 33% of the population, give or take, will at some point.
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is launching its first national print and Web and regional TV push, aiming to attract patients from around the country by touting the center as a place that gets what it means to be a patient and promote the center as the top cancer care hospital in the U.S.
The effort -- via Dallas independent shop The Richards Group -- features testimonials by survivors, but takes a different tack than a similar effort from New York-based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, whose ads say:L "Where you're treated first can make all the difference."
The national print, online, TV, radio, and local cinema effort -- the center's largest to date -- presents the teaching and research center as a place that understands that people are not symptoms, and where each patient is treated as an individual.
One 60-second spot and four 30-second ads, with the tag "Only One You. Only One M.D. Anderson" feature seven former patients and their significant others speaking about how the center went beyond the exigencies of the treatment for their disease to deal holistically with their families, individual needs and maintaining their lifestyles.
The 60-second spot is a montage of the men and women in natural settings asserting "There is only one me" and naming the kind of cancer they had. They also mention that the center was ranked number one for cancer care in a survey by U.S. News and World Report. The ads end with the former patients saying: "M.D. Anderson made my cancer history," while a visual device has them drawing a red magic marker line through a superimposition of the kind of cancer they had.
The effort includes a microsite, MakingCancerHistory.com. In addition to creative development, The Richards Group handled media planning and buying for the effort, which runs through the summer.
Heather Bunch, group media director at the agency, says that the hospital wants to build national brand awareness. The national media plan comprises a combination of general-market media and the health vertical. Print will run in "everything from Texas Monthly to Prevention and The New Yorker," she says, with TV running primarily in Southern states. Online ads are running in portals such as Yahoo.
The center reported that last year it treated 89,110 patients -- a third from outside Texas. The hospital projects that it will have 90,000 patients this year.
Hospitals across the board are losing money, according to a new report by the American Hospitals Association, which says that far fewer patients are seeking elective procedures and admissions. The rapid-response survey done in March says that 59% of hospitals reported a moderate or significant decrease in elective procedures in the first quarter, and 55% reported fewer admissions.
Forty-three percent of surveyed hospitals reported they expect losses in the first quarter, up from 26% last year. Nearly all hospitals reported that their capital situation is static or getting worse. Nine in ten hospitals have made cutbacks.