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Strong Swimmers Ride the Creative Wave

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, April 21, 2010

Fertility programs can be a tricky service line to market for a couple of reasons. Not only do you have to attract and retain the right specialists, but you also need to create attention-grabbing advertising with the right tone for an issue as emotional as infertility. Charleston (WV) Area Medical Center (CAMC) hit the mark with its "Strong Swimmers" campaign, which won a platinum award in the service line category at the 2009 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards.

CAMC created the campaign as a way to re-launch its fertility program, which had been nonexistent for about 18 months due to the previous specialist moving out of state—and taking some of his patients with him. The four-hospital health system wanted the campaign to educate consumers about its reinstated services, let previous patients know they could once again find a specialist close to home, and reach out to referring physicians.

"When that physician left there were some people driving many hours for treatment from him so when we re-launched we needed to make sure people knew the treatment was here and they didn't have to drive several hours anymore," says Elizabeth Pellegrin, chief marketing officer at CAMC. "We had taken a softer approach the first time around. In looking how we wanted to launch it this time we explored five or six creative avenues with the agency and decided that this was a very fresh approach to fertility."

Working with Maple Create, an ad agency located in Charleston, WV, CAMC narrowed their options down to seven possible campaigns. They chose "Strong Swimmers" because it touched on male and female infertility factors in an optimistic way.

"A few of our concepts were lighthearted in tone, and these were the ones that the CAMC team liked best," says Skip Lineberg, chief creative office and partner at Maple Creative. "As we moved into the refinement stage of campaign development, working on the final two campaign concepts, we all agreed that it would be effective to bring a little levity to an otherwise daunting, potentially depressing, subject matter."

The campaign used print, outdoor, radio, and Web elements. Marketers also used search engine marketing and Google AdWords to optimize online search results.

As soon as the campaign launched, the Charleston community embraced the creative and its message. Web site hits and phone inquiries continue to jump when a new leg of the campaign is launched.

"The levity of the campaign resonated strongly throughout the community," Lineberg says. "The headline phrases 'Strong Swimmers' and 'A Good Egg' proved to be both sticky and—when combined with the visual images of the babies—very buzz-worthy. The local audience's feedback told us that the ads were cute and humorous—and most importantly, memorable."

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