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Gasps and Giggles: When It’s Okay to Break from Traditional Healthcare Advertising

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, April 7, 2010

The campaign resonated well with consumers and won a platinum award in the service line category at the 2009 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards. Two confused individuals, however, called CAMC to sign their babies up for swim lessons. Guess they got a little over egg-cited. (Ba-dum-ching!)

Bottom line, an infant wearing goggles will make passersby do a double take every time. GlaxoSmithKline uses a similar—albeit more shocking—approach in its recent cervical cancer ad, which I discussed on the MarketShare blog.

At first, the TV spot appears to advertise a perfume, but when the typical whimsical perfume-ad protagonist reaches out for the bottle she finds that, instead of Dior or Channel, the bottle reads "Cervical Cancer." Cue the voiceover: "Maybe it's unfair to get your attention this way, but nothing's fair about cervical cancer."

The ad has certainly made people take notice, receiving more than 24,000 views so far on YouTube. Beyond that, it's got people talking. Several of my friends have mentioned it to me and have had a variety of reactions, from intrigued to annoyed.

Regardless, any ad that gets people talking means more word-of-mouth exposure and, ultimately, better results for your campaign. Even if it means you have to refer a few people to the local YMCA.

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