Healthcare Marketing: Average and Ordinary Equals Fresh and Credible

Featuring real people in our advertising provides a freshness and credibility that can really connect with the audience

Pepsi did it.  Remember the Pepsi Challenge when ordinary people were asked to take a taste test and decided which tasted better, Coke or Pepsi?  And Folgers did it with hidden camera ads to promote Folgers crystals.  NutriSystem switched from celebrity endorsements to real people. Red Lobster put their own employees in their ads.  Ford now has actual customers talk about buying a Ford at a mock press conference in their “Drive One” campaign.  And probably the best and most influential example of all is Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign where they featured women who represented the average women and encouraged women to embrace the beauty of their bodies.

Real people delivering a message that’s real and authentic.  It speaks. It connects.  It resonates.  It’s… well, real.  And healthcare marketers should take note.  In a culture of consumerism, consumer-control and transparency, making our ads “real” speaks to the consumer.  Using real people in our advertising can be very effective.  They can be patients, family members of patients, employees, doctors or appropriate endorsers.  If delivered simply and very genuinely, it can be very believable.  Maybe it won’t be as slick, maybe not as polished.  But it can communicate – effectively.

Lucia Moses writing for Adweek discussed the current state of celebrity endorsements and contrasted it to the use of ordinary people in current advertising quotes Tor Myhren, president and chief creative officer of Grey New York, “Brands are asking for more authentic communications.  They are stepping back from casting and saying instead of using actors or celebrities, let’s use real people.”  He added, “People are taking control. Everybody can film themselves now. That immediately opens you up for user-generated content. Whether it’s on YouTube or Facebook, we’re so used to seeing less professionally done movies. Because we’re used to seeing things that are less slick, it becomes more acceptable for advertisers to do that. Because of how companies are becoming more and more exposed because of the digital age, part of this trend is that we’re going to make our communications a little more real, a little more honest.”

This is not to say all our advertising should be testimonials or feature real people.  But it is to say the authenticity of using real people can cut through the clutter and effectively promote our brand.  Consumers may question what we say about ourselves but they can’t question a friend or neighbor, a real person, either patient or employee, who speaks from the heart.  It is just naturally believable. 

In a time of skepticism and mistrust.  When transparency is expected and demanded.  When technology is so invasive.  When social interaction on social networks dominate computer time.  Maybe it’s time we just “got real!”


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