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What's Your Red Letter Day?

Kandace McLaughlin, for HealthLeaders Media, June 4, 2008

Click to view PDF version.Working within a "Goliath, Goliath, and Goliath" marketplace, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center in Richmond, VA had to find a way to stand out among the local hospital giants. Seizing an opportunity to be creative, VCU chose to mark its place within the market by showcasing its patient's successful 'red letter' days.

Extensive research showed that VCU had the distinction within the community as the critical condition place to go however the research also revealed an opportunity to educate the community about its level of innovation. "Discovery was our way of differentiating ourselves," says Marcos Irigaray, Vice President of Strategy & Professional Services for VCU. With that focus the tagline ‘Every Day, A New Discovery' was developed as a way to reinforce and encompass the mission of the brand and the campaign.

Using a multi-integrated approach and working with Neathawk Dubuque, & Packett agency (headquartered in Richmond, VA), the creative focused on VCU's history of innovation as told through the successful calendar days of its patients. Each ad features a patient story for a primary service line alongside a day and corresponding personal statement.

An example can be seen in the piece for the VCU Pauley Heart Center. Featured is Evelyn, a patient who on February 14th underwent surgery for a heart transplant. The copy reads, "The Day Evelyn Got Her Brand New Heart. Evelyn McCullough will always have a special place in her heart for VCU Pauley Heart Center. And she will always have a special place in ours. Another day, another way we're making a difference in the lives and health of everyone we serve." For continuity, each piece includes the VCU logo with the campaign tagline and imagery done in black and white allowing a red, 'red letter' date to stand out. "What's fascinating about this campaign is its breadth and adaptability," says Irigaray. "It can be applied in many different ways without destroying our central care message."

Of course what's also unique about this campaign is that Irigaray and others can personally connect with it. "[The campaign] is about personal discovery," says Irigaray. "For me, my red letter days are the days my children were born at VCU. The message can be applied in so many ways and it doesn't dilute the meaning."


Kandace McLaughlin is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. Send her Campaign Spotlight ideas at kmclaughlin@healthleadersmedia.com If you are a marketer submitting a campaign on behalf of your facility or client, please ensure you have permission before doing so.