Children's Hospital Uses Kid-Shot Footage


Akron Children’s Hospital has enlisted actual patients to help create its latest TV campaign.

The effort includes 11 thirty-second spots and was put together by Marcus Thomas, Cleveland.

The goal was simply “to show kids getting better,” said Marcus Thomas Creative Director Jim Sollisch.

Depending on their condition, some of these young patients will never be 100% cured, and for any advertising to imply otherwise would be both dishonest and, probably unbelievable. But it is accurate to show them making progress, and given the hurdles some of these kids face, that alone makes a compelling story.

Three kids were given video cameras and asked just to “shoot yourself being yourself.”



The hospital has been running documentary-style ads for nearly 10 years, said Beth Smith, director of marketing, Akron Children’s Hospital.

“This year, we took it further by having the kids help tell their own stories,” Smith tells Marketing Daily. “By putting the camera in the hands of our patients and their families, we put the real heroes front and center.”

The hospital is happy with the finished product, she said.

“We love the way they turned out, and will certainly consider doing this again,” Smith said. “We’ve been getting great feedback from our staff, our patients and the community.”

The campaign targets moms with kids under 18 and airs during prime time on broadcast networks in northeastern Ohio.

One of the young videographers was Katherine, age 12, an avid dance student who was, as she puts it, “born with a hole in her heart and a bad valve.” She has had 15 heart procedures, and will need care for the rest of her (potentially long) life.

Her own footage -- approximately one-third of the spot -- shows her hard at work at ballet, cartwheels, cheerleading and tongue-sticking-out. Her heart doctor sees her as “a Volkswagen engine in a NASCAR automobile.” Screen graphics describe the pacemaker she has had since two months of age.

Another was Mackenzie, age 10, and healthy until age 7, when she began hearing ringing in her ears. Her brain tumor was successfully removed, but left her unable to speak or walk.

Her motor skills, showcased in full display in “Take One,” the spot she shot start to finish, continue to catch up to her irrepressibly bubbly spirit. A more touching side of that spirit comes through in “NeuroSturgeon,” as she asks her doctor “What do you call a fish that does brain surgery?” then breaks out giggling. Screen graphics state: “A year ago, Mackenzie couldn’t walk or talk.”

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