Television commercials can be the best part of the Super Bowl, as brewers, automakers, financial companies and other sellers of products and services promote themselves as much as their wares.
The marketing of healthcare frequently requires a much different strategy and level of gamesmanship. In addition to potentially difficult subject matters, the different audiences of consumer and industry players can make it a challenge to develop the right message and find the best outlet for a campaign.
But that doesn’t mean healthcare companies and the ad agencies they work with can’t be creative, take chances and go beyond the tried-and-true to market providers, drugs and technologies as well as draw attention to medical conditions and the need for preventive care.
Thinking outside the box, yet maintaining the necessary sensitivity, is so welcome. I mean, really, who wants to see one more ad with a family embracing their time together while a voiceover describes all the side effects of a drug that’s supposed to improve a patient’s medical condition and quality of life?
The winners of this year’s Healthcare Marketing Impact Awards provided that breath of fresh air. Looking through the winners, at some moments I teared up; at others I laughed or felt more informed. Many focused on making the patient experience better and more personalized. There’s surely room for improvement there. One can only hope the messaging is embraced internally at the organizations.
Other efforts focused on advocacy, trying to remove stigmas, bring attention to medical conditions and improve health outcomes by stressing the need for screenings. Some of that messaging was downright brash and caught the selected audience’s attention, sending people to websites for more information.
The industry is in a period of rapid change. Hospitals and health systems are trying to determine what they should focus on themselves and finding partners for other efforts. Plenty of new entrants have emerged as worthy competitors seeking to upend traditional care models and boost their revenue. And there seems to be a renewed emphasis on advocacy and health equity. Standing out from the crowd is difficult, but this year’s winners made it happen. Keep it up.