September 2, 2010

Unexpected. Relatable. Unforgettable.

Making Hospital Commercials Memorable

What commercials stick out the most in your memory? Maybe it’s “Keep your hands off my Doritos!” Maybe it’s the Geico cavemen spots. What makes them memorable? That’s easy — they’re funny.

Now, when’s the last time you told a friend, “Oh, man, you should see this hospital commercial!” Exactly. Healthcare-related ads are typically very subdued: a panoramic view of a hospital floor, smiling doctors and nurses, high-tech equipment, etc. A soothing voice assures you that, as a patient, you’ll receive the best care possible. Ho-hum.

Is there another way to get that message across?

Fauquier Health in Virginia seemed to think so. While their message is typical —you are a priority, your care is personalized — their delivery is anything but. Instead of pleasant but forgettable images of their own facilities, Fauquier’s TV commercials depict just the opposite: a factory-like hospital treating patients on an assembly line. In one spot, anonymous patients roll by doctors in hard hats who shout instructions across the factory floor (“This one’s goin’ to x-ray!”). In another spot, pregnant women are treated like cattle. A nurse hands out cups to mothers without making eye contact, mechanically chanting, “Ice chips. Ice chips.” A doctor almost cruelly flashes a newborn at its mother then tosses the baby into a passing bassinet.

Not what you would expect from a hospital. But, no doubt, you can relate to being treated impersonally in a healthcare setting. So, while there’s no word yet on whether these spots have had an impact on Fauquier’s bottom line, they’re probably gonna stick in your mind.