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