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Documentary-Style Hospital Campaign Surpasses Deep-Pocket Competitors

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2012

To determine the best way to target the self-navigator, Feinberg and his team, working with New York City ad agency Munn Rabôt, went right to the source: NYP patients. After conducting countless patient interviews, the team noticed that above all else, patients valued the positive experiences they had with NYP staff.

They decided the best way to publicize these experiences was through the patients themselves. This insight inspired the "Amazing Things Are Happening Here" campaign in 2011.

Finding the Right Spokes-Patients

To decide which patients were most suited to sharing their NYP story, Feinberg and his agency counterparts created a matrix of criteria, including the complexity of the patient's case, the simplicity of the story, and the patient's storytelling ability.

"We research the case as much as possible before we meet the patient, we then pre-interview the patient, and finally we interview and film the patient," he says. "Even after this vetting process, not all patients' stories are able to be reduced to 60 seconds, and often these stories are used on the web in a longer format."

The testimonial ads are displayed in black and white, in order to stand out and better convey emotion to the viewer. The only color in the minute-long spots is the hospital's logo, which is displayed briefly at the end.

NYP created five ads featuring patient stories that involved hospital staff. The spots were edited from interviews where the patients spoke freely and are noticeably unscripted?which is rare and refreshing in hospital advertising these days.

The star of the "Amazing Things Are Happening Here" campaign is a nine-year-old girl named Heather, who tells her story of having a malignant tumor successfully removed at NYP after failing to find the right surgeon at several other hospitals. She can't even pronounce "Presbyterian" correctly, but the girl's candor and unique storytelling ability would keep just about anyone's attention.

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1 comments on "Documentary-Style Campaign Surpasses Deep-Pocket Competitors"


Patrick (1/17/2012 at 1:47 PM)
I am interested in knowing where you obtained your media spending information. According to VoiceTrak, NY Presbyterian not only changed their creative strategy for 2010, but they also nearly doubled their media budget. NYP spent $1.16MM in 2009, which they increased to $2.26MM in 2010. NYP continued this trend in 2011, eclipsing their total 2010 spend in just the first 6 months of the year. NYP spent a little over $2.6MM in the first six months of 2011, a 570% increase versus the same time period in 2010. NYP is consistently the biggest spender in the NY DMA. This is in stark contrast to your "David vs. Goliath" headline. I agree, the NYP creative work is very good, but :60 TV spots in New York are not cheap. Citing awareness research and a few TV spots with NYP's success without mentioning their substantial increases in media spending is irresponsible.