Effective Advertising

Healthcare Marketing: Bring Back the Glory of Advertising

Adverting can be better.  We can create better work.  With all the tools available today we should be more effective.

Think about advertising in the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s.   Before the internet and social media and mobile marketing.  Great brands were built.  Using traditional media, great brands were created. TV, print, radio and outdoor were used to create dominant brands and build brand equity.

Think about some of the successes:

Diamonds Are Forever…DeBeers

Volvo… owned safety

Avis Tried Harder. . because they were number 2

Pop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz… Alka-Seltzer

Just Do it…Nike

Be All You Can Be…Army

It Takes A Licking and Keeps On Ticking…Timex

Where’s the Beef?…Wendy’s

Only a Few Good Men…Marines

The Real Thing…Coke

And we could go on and on.  The point is easily made that advertising was effective and helped build great brands.  But fewer great brands are being created today.  Why?  Maybe it’s because we don’t have great ideas.  We aren’t saying anything worth saying.  We aren’t capturing the minds and hearts of consumers.  We are talking at consumers instead of to consumers.   Maybe it’s because our advertising has no soul.

We take shortcuts, go for the cheapest production, take the easy way out, and don’t spend the time to do what’s necessary to capture the consumer’s minds and hearts.

It’s true that healthcare advertising is quite restrictive.  We are dealing with a very serious subject. We have all kinds of regulations.  We have to be sensitive to our many constituencies.  So many have to approve the work and to gain all the approvals the work gets watered down.  It’s uniquely challenging to do great healthcare work.  But none of this should prohibit us from trying.  Trying to put some soul in our work, make sure it resonates with the consumer in both their mind and heart.  Give our work a voice and a brand distinction that builds brand equity.

To do so means art direction, production and copy writing all matters.  The work should have a voice and be attractive and appealing.  It takes skill and it’s not easy.  We should push each other to do better and to be committed to producing the best work possible and to not just give in.

And we must believe advertising can be both creative and effective.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  The history of advertising should teach us that.  Creativity and effectiveness has always gone hand in hand.  We should strive to create beautiful work that speaks to our audience.  Work that communicates and captivates.

Advertising has been effective for decades.  It has built great brands.  And today we have more tools than ever.  More opportunities than ever.  More options in the toolbox.  More mediums to integrate that should make our work even stronger and more effective.

But we must believe in our industry.  Our craft.  We must respect what we do and the skill and talents required to do the job well.  We can all do better.

We must!


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: Most Popular Ads Not Necessarily Most Effective

A list of most liked commercials that aired in the Super Bowl was very different that the commercials with most recall.    

This year, like every year, there was much anticipation for the spots that would air during the Super Bowl.   A lot of talk and fanfare.  And certainly a lot of money spent by the advertisers who paid over $3 million per spot.   Not only do we look forward to viewing the latest collection of creativity for some of the world’s largest brands, we are also interested in seeing how the spots fared with the viewers.

Nielsen always conducts research immediately after the game to test the commercials.  This year two of the things they tested were likeability and recall.  And that’s where it got interesting.  Because the two lists were very different.  In fact, the top three most liked spots did not even make the top ten list for most recalled.  And even more confusing, only one spot made both lists.

Surprising indeed!  What does this say?  I think it says we can sometimes create advertising that’s clever, cute, funny, creative and well liked but never make a connection to the brand. And when that happens what have we accomplished?   This can also be true about the many creative award shows.  You’ve seen it.  Judges grant top honors to ads that are highly creative but upon further review communicate little or nothing about the product or the brand. They are creative competitions and beauty pageants and it’s so nice to be honored for great work.  But many times these very ads that are highly decorated never progress the brand.

In healthcare advertising we can make the same mistake. We can create cute, warm, emotional ads that never sell anything.  Sometimes we can win awards for such creativity but we haven’t sold anything.  We haven’t increased market share at all.  This is not to be critical of creativity.  I have written many times about the need for creativity in our healthcare advertising.   Without it, we seldom get seen or heard.  But creativity alone is not the answer either.

Effective advertising occurs when our creativity is used to actually sell a product or service or advance the brand.  When it’s used to effectively position the brand, to build a strong relationship to the brand.   When it increases market share.

And that is the challenge for all of us in healthcare marketing.  To create advertising that breaks through the clutter and has high notation.  But what it communicates is not just creativity but the benefits of a service line or brand.  It should be advertising that communicates rationally and emotionally and actually moves the needle.

Yeah it’s nice to be recognized for creativity.  But the real satisfaction comes when that recognition is more than an award, it’s recognition for advertising that actually works!