Storybook Success

Kandace McLaughlin, for HealthLeaders Media, September 3, 2008

Click to view Web site.Once upon a time a hospital created an advertising campaign that told its story through the success stories of its doctors and patients. The moral of that story? Increased community awareness is possible with a unique creative strategy.

According to Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis, everyone involved with the facility had a story to share of an experience they had with a patient. Using that as motivation, Children's decided to do a campaign that would showcase those stories, using them as a powerful way to deliver a message of care.

"We wanted to be able to do two things," says Trudy Marshall, director of marketing and communications for Children's. "We wanted to tell the story of how we take care of kids but also wanted to highlight what we do for kids."

The marketing team chose two patient stories to highlight in the ads. One features a family with twins who were born prematurely and spent 113 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. The other features a family whose child was treated for a rare form of cancer.

"Our neonatology outcomes are among the very highest in the nation," says Marshall. "We wanted to bring that to life through telling an individual story-to show quality outcomes."

What makes the ads unique, however, is the creative execution from which the story is told.

TV was chosen as the primary medium and the ads are a mix of cartoon whimsy and real-life. Each spot shows the Children's story in the form of an actual story book that opens to reveal the patient's success story moving within it. The story is narrated by the professional who cared for the child, and at the end, a call-to-action drives viewers to Children's Web site to share a Children's story of their own.

The stories that are shared via the Web site are then posted in an online community of positive experiences and successes which, in turn, is positive for the facility as it becomes positive user generated public relations messaging.

Marshall says the outcomes have been great.

"The feedback we've received shows that the campaign has made people think about the stories they have. People who have seen it will say, 'boy do I have a story for you.' It's amazing how many stories we do hear."

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