Bob Garfield

Hospital Advertising: Creative and Effective Ads are Not the Same

The ultimate goal of our advertising efforts is to provide information that will ultimately lead to more sells.  

The results are in.  It’s the talk of the advertising community.  The most liked spot in this year’s Super Bowl was a spot featuring a little Darth Vader.   You know the spot.  The five-year-old boy who’s dressed like Darth Vader wanders around the house trying to conjure up The Force to help him.  He has no success until he goes outside and calls on The Force to affect his dad’s car.  And to his surprise The Force is finally with him and the car comes to life.  Of course the viewer sees The Force is actually his dad using the car’s remote ignition button.

It’s a great commercial.  It was ranked as the most liked by Nielsen research.  It has created a tremendous viral following having been viewed on YouTube over 10 million times.   And it has been one of the hottest topics on Twitter and Facebook.  What a success!  But was it?

Do you remember the brand of the car?  The model?  Did it impart any information?  Did it sell anything?  Bob Garfield pointed out in an article in Ad Age that the vast majority of the conversation in social media was about the ad but not about the car.  So was it a great commercial for the brand?

David Ogilvy said, “I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.  If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.” And there has to be some truth to that principle.  What did we learn about the car in the adorable spot?  That it has a remote ignition system?  Now that’s old news in the car industry.  That is hardly an advantage.  What else did the spot tell us?

We have to be careful we don’t make the same mistake in hospital advertising.  We need to communicate information.  Useful information.  Information that heightens the brand.   Selling is not a bad thing.  After all it is what all our advertising and marketing must ultimately accomplish. It’s not enough to be adorable.  We must sell.

The spot most liked in the latest Super Bowl could have been for any product.  Insert any brand you like.  Yes it’s well liked.  It has become a viral success.  But is that really what Volkswagen wanted to accomplish for its Passat?  If the American consumer remembers who the spot was for maybe they will rush out and buy one.  But then again probably not.


Healthcare Marketing: There’s Gold in Them There Hills – Its Your Brand

A brand may be old, well established and mature but it may still have tremendous brand equity that can be the impetus for a brand transformation and revival. 

What’s old is now new.  Things from the past are now current.  Things nostalgic are hip again.   Maturity is a positive thing.  It carries all kinds of positive attributes, like trust, experience, familiarity and know-how.  And all of these are good brand traits.

Bob Garfield recently wrote an article for Ad Age and discussed the value of older brands. Products and brands go through a life cycle: introduction, growth, maturity and decline.  Although this is true, there remains great equity in mature or even declining brands that can be used to resurrect a brand and make it relevant again.

It is a time when those things that are old or mature are new again.  They have new life. It’s certainly easier to take older brands and give them new life than to try to start a whole new brand.  Garfield cites these examples of brands that have matured and declined: Studebaker, Alberto VO5, Frigidaire, Schlitz, Bufferin and Jiffy-Pop.  Recognize any of them?  You probably are somewhat familiar with all of them.  How is that true?  They are old and have basically gone away.  But yet all still have brand equity.

Brand equity is extremely valuable.  It lingers for years and years.  Garfield alludes to Slip and Slide and Spic N Span.  When was the last time you saw any branding advertising from either?  But you remember them, don’t you?

The point is, even though we may have a brand that is mature, that’s been around a long time… a hospital or healthcare organization that is a long way from being hip anymore, that’s okay.  Because there may be valuable and meaningful brand equity that can be used to resurrect the brand and make it relevant again.

Hard to believe?  Have you noticed the astonishing sales growth for Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer over the past 5 years?  What about the resurgence of Converse All-Stars and P.F.Flyers?  And who doesn’t know how hip and cool my father’s cheap aftershave, Old Spice, is now.  And what about Harley Davidson?  The ultimate iconic American brand that has not only been rejuvenated but propelled to new heights.

Retro, nostalgia, old things are cool again.  And if you have a mature brand that’s been around for a long time, there is a strong likelihood it still has great brand equity.  Brand equity that can be used to make the brand relevant again, or more relevant.  Brands, hospitals and heathcare organizations with great brand equity can be rejuvenated. And it may be a lot easier than investing and building an entirely new brand.

Yes, even though it may be old, your brand can be cool again.