One Hospital’s Remarkable Advertising Campaign
I rarely watch television commercials. We have a DVR at home, so it takes a particularly good ad to make me remove my finger from the fast-forward button.
One series of commercials here in New York makes me stop and watch every time. These ads pack an emotional punch. Perhaps I’m going soft, but a couple of these reduced me to tears.
Their power comes from their raw authenticity and vulnerability. They feature real people—patients and hospital employees; young and old; sick and healthy. They’re unusual, in that rough takes and linguistic imperfections are left in. In one dramatic case, the hospital even ran an ad about a child in their care who died—an unusual and even risky promotional device for a hospital—but in this case, an extremely effective one.
Four of the one-minute ads are below. They’re worth watching.
Danion Jones, who was treated for a brain tumor:
Jean Miller, a unit clerk in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU):
P.J. Hermida, a patient whose disease prevented her from walking:
Matthew Long, a patient who was injured in a bad accident several years ago:
According to the website Creativity:
“New York-Presbyterian’s ‘Amazing Things Are Happening Here’ campaign, through its agency Munn Rabot and production company Lost Highway Films, has been running since 2009.”
“David Feinberg, VP and chief marketing officer for New York-Presbyterian, says: ‘Consumer response has been so remarkable because these are real people telling real stories in their own words. We have worked very hard to eliminate hype and hyperbole, so their honesty comes through loud and clear.’”
These ads offer an important insight into selecting the right spokesperson to communicate on behalf of your company, organization, or agency. Sometimes, that person is an executive or subject matter expert. But as these commercials prove, sometimes third-party surrogates can be your best external advocates.
These ads also offer one additional lesson for media spokespersons and public speakers: authenticity matters. In these ads, verbal slips and imperfections didn’t get in the way—they added to the message.
And the fact that they ran an ad about a child they were unable to save is remarkable, in that it exposes their medical limits. But that, too, doesn’t get in the way. I would want my child to be treated at a hospital that cares that much about its young patients. The authenticity of the commercials made me believe, and I suspect it made a lot of other people believe, as well.
Disclaimer: I was treated at New York-Presbyterian for an injury I sustained in 2008. The medical team was sensational. I no longer have any active connection to the hospital, or to any employee or agency related to it.
I’ll be back after the Thanksgiving break. For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, may it be a happy and healthy one!
What did you think of these ads? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
These are breathtaking.
A reminder that in a world filled with messaging, sometimes all we really want is for someone to tell us their story. Thank you, Brad.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.
John is absolutely right. Sometimes we forget who tells the best story if we just let them. Thank you so much for sharing something those of us not in New York would not have had a chance to see.
In a profession where sustainability often requires hardening ones heart, it was profoundly moving to hear these stories of compassionate healthcare. They put “Thanksgiving” in perspective. Thank you for sharing!
Brandi, John, Terri, and Charlotte —
Thank you all very much for your comments. I’m delighted to hear that you’ve all reacted to this ad campaign the same way I did. It truly is a breath of fresh air and a welcome break from the more inhuman forms of marketing.
I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Brad, we studied this campaign in my master’s class on Storytelling. The power behind the success of these ads, in my opinion, is how open, candid and simple they are. As you say, the authenticity is what grabs the viewer. No special effects, no background music – just a person the audience can relate to, a camera and a story. Thank you for sharing these ads and giving them the attention they deserve. Happy Thanksgiving.
Thanks for your comment – I didn’t realize just how far these ads had reached. Did you glean any particular insights from your class about this campaign?
Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.
Brad, our instructor (Thaler Pekar) zoned in on the human element and letting others tell your story from the campaign. For instance, in Matthew Long’s story, Presbyterian could have used facts about how many patients successfully receive rehabilitation treatment at the hospital, even maybe mentioning the dedication and commitment of the staff. Letting Long tell the story firsthand of Anna, though, allowed the audience to connect on a common basis: care. This campaign was used as the epitome of how a company successfully creates its narrative (in Presbyterian’s case, care) through the stories it shares.