Doctor-Driven Ad On Wheels

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, October 1, 2008

Click to view Web PDF.When a cardiologist at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center approached Marketing Manager Julie Ashby and said, "I've got this idea. You might think I'm crazy, but I want to see what you think about it," she was taken aback. But by the time he was done talking, Ashby says she was drooling.

Rush Waller, MD, told Ashby he wanted to wrap his new Dodge Nitro with LeBonheur graphics. And with the help of the marketing department, he did.

"Dr. Waller is not a wacky, loud personality. He's kind of a quiet reserved physician," Ashby says. "So it's kind of surprising that he would want to do this because it does take a lot to drive around in something that loud."

The car, which the hospital has dubbed an LUV (Le Bonheur Utility Vehicle), is wrapped with graphics that complement the organization's current print ads. It is brightly colored and features photos of former cardiology patients, some of whom Waller treated.

Waller has worked at the hospital since 1999 and said he was inspired to wrap his car to advertise the new children's facility that is scheduled to open in 2010.

"People have been so impressed, not only with how the car looks but with Dr. Waller's dedication and sincere love for Le Bonheur," Ashby says. "It's such a wacky idea and I think people were really blown away that he would offer to do this to his personal vehicle, and we're just so impressed that the reason really was to promote LeBonheur and the new hospital."

Since the driving billboard was unveiled in August, Waller has received a lot of attention around the community. Luckily, the marketing department foresaw this situation and created brochures for Waller to keep in the car.

"If he has five or 10 minutes to talk to somebody about it great," Ashby says. "If he doesn't, he can hand them this piece and they can go on with it. The design matches the car so it's really like a little marketing kit for his glove compartment."

Ashby says some other doctors have mentioned that they might like to do something similar for their cars, but she's not sure whether they'll really have the guts to do it.

Marianne Aiello is an editor with HealthLeaders Media. She can be reached at
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