Beyond Slo-Mo Smiles: Can Healthcare Marketing Finally Get Creative?

Moderator Michael DiSalvo, SVP of health and wellness, Ogilvy

John Barker, founder and chief idea officer, BARKER
Courtney Cotrupe, President, Partners+Napier
Moses Salami, director of marketing communications, Holy Name Medical Center

Michael: Innovating in healthcare is easy because we can just look at what banks did last year. But there are warriors fighting against stagnate creative, people making salads. 

(Watch creative on our events site. Last session of Sept. 27. Emotional and funny.)

Moses: Holy Name is independent Catholic medical center. We weren’t connecting with our patients with the way we wanted. We loved John [Barker’s] team. We gave them the proposal, they delivered a vibrant solution to flavorless marketing we saw all around us.

John: Our head of strategy, we are a data driven creative boutique, look for insights before we look for idea. Uncovered how different two things were, Teaneck, New Jersey, and Holy Name itself. One of most diverse communities you can imagine. Getting along. Real challenges for a hospital serving that region. We came across a quote from the CEO in an obscure publication. “I know that we’re going a great job when a patient walks into this facility and says, ‘Wow, this place is different.’” That’s the tagline. “This place is different.” We’re playing off that sea of sameness. This campaign is about the joy of living, not fear of dying. What Holy Name delivers. Personalized care. 

Michael: Moses said we went to Barker because they weren’t healthcare. Courtney, how do you fight against that?

Courtney: One advantage we have is that we aren’t a healthcare marketing agency. Local aspect of it is important when drawing insights to form strategies. People have deep experiences with hospitals. As with Blue Hen, uncovering Delaware’s deep pride in [state bird]. Creative wrote itself. Really lucky in a various complex environment created something really simple. Lightnining in a bottle. 

Michael: Data and creativity, if you Google them, you’ll get 100 different articles on 100 topics. How do we reconcile that? Both are important. Creative sometimes has gut instinct. Is it war between rational, irrational?

Courtney: We use data to inform, inspire, optimize. Use creativity piece is the gut piece. Data + instincts + trust. Relationship piece you build with client. Asked eldery people to come to location, gave them T-shirts, told them what we wanted to do and that’s what we got. 

John: You cant’ be creative if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Robert Frost writing formal poetry when free verse was the norm. “Free verse is like playing tennis without a net.” Data is the net, lines on the court. How to play the game, be creative within that box. 

Moses: For us, data very important. Our cancer center, 70% from northern Hudson County, we have people represented of all ethnicities in our campaign. Data connects with gut feeling. Build relationship, connect with community.

Michael: Creativity inside the box is best way to describe marketing within regulated industry. How do we make sure people care? That it actually matters to them?

John: I tell new clients that you might be writing the check but we work for the consumer. Empathizing with customer is most important objectivity we bring. to see real campaign. This is real people. Emotionally affecting but also affecting, joyful, empathetic, real. You have to empathize, understand consumer. Agency has to have courage to tell client you’re screwing it up.

Courtney: Now, especially, the work has exemplify some sort of utility for people. Lady with all Post Its on her. Seniors in particular when they get into the doctor’s office, they forget what questions to ask. Pressure filled situation. Instead of creating splashy, our solution was a tool and product, AskTheDoc checklist. Creating positive engagement. Providing utility and bring humor to it.

Moses: Consumers and patients want both. Campaign is extension of what’s happening at Holy Name. 

Michael: You can’t slap paint on a building that’s falling down. Where does it break down? What’s going wrong? How did healthcare get rep for being stodgy?

John: Same problem with law firms. Doctors and lawyers are generally judged by credentials, school, clerked, interned, competitiveness, arrogance, pressure on institutions to say we’re no. 1. After a while, they don’t realize they’re just talking about themselves. Industry talking to itself. What they’re about is healing people.

Moses: Healthcare marketing is dinosaur. Afraid of over promising. 

Michael: Takes a whole organization to get work done. Tips, tricks to be able to do what you do.

Moses: From top down, having buy-in. Become ambassadors. We hit ground running with it. Pride ourselves on being human, collaborated with medical staff and compliance department. Knowing as well, getting clinical perspective right. Having our medical staff, compliance on board helped to represent what’s going on with our advertising.

Michael: What is the impetus for change? 

Moses: John’s team saw something interesting about Holy Name.

John: It comes to when an organization finds itself in some kind of crisis. Five huge competitors within 10 miles. Comes down to brand courage. Client had courage to want to be different. If clients aren’t willing to go there, to push it, when you get a title like head of marketing, there’s a responsibility that comes with it to guide your organization out of the sea of sameness. Holy Name was extraordinarily brave. 

Courtney: We’ve tried to create a common language with our clients to help them take risks. Effectivity, we made it up. Creativity can be 11 times more effective than other work. Cliche or boring, you can damage a brand. If you’re creating original work, opportunity to reach the ROI you want to achieve. We’re all jumping in together. Not just on a CMO’s shoulders. Anticipating your Plan B.

Michael: Emerging channels, patients looking to interact with brands, examples of newer channels that interact with patients?

John: We’re no longer in that captive audience world. 72% of people multitasking while watching TV. We’ve really got to earn attention. Shorter units are really interesting, esp. in a regulated industry. Focusing on 6 to 8 second spots for a pharmaceutical product. Trying to make it funny, stay in safe space. 

Courtney: Converstations told in a different way. Hims provides content, lifestyle brand. One in 10 men afraid to talk about health with doctor. Like Goop for men. A lot to learn there. Building community around social, content. Almost a media platform. We can learn things from it. Some of the D2C brands doing interesting things.

Moses: Content is currency. For patients and consumers. Going beyond print ad, everything we do lives online. All about shareable content, increases the reach.

Video from this session will be available here tomorrow.

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