Monthly Archives: September 2011

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Brand

By Sean Tracey

Originally published in the American Hospitals Association’s healthcare advertising publication, Spectrum in September/October 2005.

Is your advertising building or eroding trust in your brand?

A woman sits on a stainless steel table. She’s alone in an unfriendly, cold place, barraged by bright, unflattering lights. She looks vulnerable, wearing only a flimsy patient’s johnny. Suddenly, a disembodied hand enters the frame and begins to shave her head as we watch and as she weeps, petrified.

Is this a scene from a sci-fi or horror movie? No. It’s the opening of a TV commercial for a hospital. As the shaving continues, graphics appear: “Sharon has a tumor. Removing it will be tricky. One centimeter to the left…paralysis. One centimeter to the right…blindness. Not doing anything…death. Who can handle this challenge? We can.” Then the logo and name of the medical institution are revealed.

This ad was created by an award-winning advertising agency and produced by a respected commercial production company and a talented director. The hospital marketers who approved the ad probably believed that their surgeons would think it was “hard hitting.” But, in producing and approving such an edgy ad, the agency and its hospital client may have gone too far. In my opinion, this TV ad betrayed the trust of all who saw it, both consciously and subliminally, and ultimately undermined the hospital brand.  Continue reading


How To Kill Three Birds With One Stone.

This past fall, Sean Tracey Associates created and designed a “win-win” way for Town and Country Federal Credit Union (T&C) to (1) launch their brand in social media, (2) conduct an online charitable giving campaign, and (3) grand open their latest, largest branch—all in one fell swoop!  The idea was to meet the new branch’s neighbors and at the same time do something really good for their new community, so T&C decided to give away $25,000 in grants to local organizations.  STA recommended the use of social media as a viral media platform to allow community members to vote for which charity they valued most, so that T&C didn’t have to chose themselves from among all the worthy candidates. Continue reading