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TV News-Like Campaign Promotes IA Children's Hospital

December 20, 2016

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics uses carefully crafted fictional "news" stories and child actors to publicize the Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Fake news has been making headlines lately, but The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is putting faux-news stories to good use in its $3 million campaign to promote the new Stead Family Children's Hospital in Iowa City, IA.

The campaign is the brainchild of the health system's marketing firm, Lewis Communications of Birmingham, AL. It includes ads, videos, and a website featuring children dressed up as news reporters for a fictional station called Aktion News.

The ads began airing in September.

Campaign costs included:

  • $1.3 million for producing the videos and photos of child actors
  • $1.7 million on TV spots airing across Iowa and north-central Illinois, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Pandora
  • $41,000 for the Aktion News website

One of the videos shows a young weather "reporter" named Story Fairweather jumping in a puddle outside the hospital. Another shows "reporter" Aien Coltrane talking to a "doctor" about hand hygiene.

'Hyper-localized' Campaign Bumps Hospital's Web Traffic

"There's a great deal of self-direction in choosing healthcare and healthcare providers," Cheryl Hodgson, Children's Hospital marketing director, told a local newspaper. "The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the services we provide."

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