12 hospital marketing execs share the campaign they're most proud of

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By the time they land a C-suite role, hospital marketing executives have usually deployed dozens of campaigns, each with different focuses. Below, 12 of these executives share the campaign they've been most proud of in the past 10 years.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Karen Wish. Chief Marketing Officer at Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): I am most proud of the ad campaign our team launched this summer at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. The campaign is intended to acknowledge Mount Sinai’s preeminent role as a leader in healthcare, research and education by acknowledging the determination, commitment and compassion to find solutions, care for patients and to advance the science of medicine.  

The campaign features a tagline "We Find A Way". Developed in partnership with SS&K and captured by award-winning cinematographer and photojournalist Ron Haviv and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson, the campaign captures distinctive, human moments between the staff and real patients. The campaign is the largest single awareness campaign for Mount Sinai and sets the foundation for a continued effort in the future. 

This fall and winter, Mount Sinai will use television, radio, and additional media to extend the campaign’s reach. The selected specialty areas spotlight the unique accomplishments and breakthroughs that have made Mount Sinai an exceptional health care provider. Along with SS&K, Mount Sinai partnered with Mediassociates on strategic media planning and buying. 

Jigar Shah. Chief Marketing Officer at Providence (Renton, Wash.): There is no one campaign that I am more proud of than others. All of our campaigns have made me proud. But if I reflect on our campaigns, I am proud that during COVID-19’s early stages, we were able to partner with web, communication, clinical and operations teams within Providence to become a trusted national resource for information in a rapidly changing environment. 

We did this via establishing a rapid response team to triage requests from our clinical team, partners, and communities and determine the best way to meet their needs. The rapid response team allowed us to partner quickly with other hospital systems in California to create a consortium to promote safety. We also worked with our web team to build an information hub with the most current COVID-19 information for each community we serve. We partnered with large social platforms to provide clinically vetted COVID-19 educational content to be displayed through their COVID-19 hubs. We built and launched multichannel campaigns about the steps we were taking to keep our communities safe. We received many replies from our patients thanking us for providing timely and accurate information. I am proud of all of that work.

Nick Ragone. Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Ascension (St. Louis): During the height of the pandemic surge of 2020 we launched a campaign called "I'm not going anywhere" to highlight and give thanks to the extraordinary work of our caregivers as they reassured patients about their health and safety. The song was an original composition by Nashville recording artist Kelly Lang, who happened to be an Ascension patient years earlier, and her beautiful words and melody blended with the images of our caregivers in a way that truly struck a chord with so many of our patients and associates. Even a year later, we're still getting feedback on how the commercial beautifully captured the compassion, strength and resilience of our Ascension caregivers.

Suzanne Bharati Hendery. Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): The campaign I am most proud of is Renown Health’s “Fight the Good Fight” campaign based on the brand values of hope and determination. Why it is my favorite? It was created in conjunction with our community and our employees, features real patients and health care heroes, and was produced by BVK, Rob Klein and our in-house team of creative professionals at Renown. Not only has the campaign exceeded all the goals we had for the investment; the powerful brand imagery has lifted the spirits of our entire state through the pandemic and natural disasters. It is amazing what smart, engaging and clever creative can-do.

Jennifer Gilkie. Vice President of Communications & Marketing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (Lebanon, N.H.): The COVID-19 pandemic is the single most impactful healthcare-related event of the last couple decades, so naturally, it required impactful messaging. I'm incredibly proud of our system-wide, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health marketing campaign, "There's Hope Inside". We developed and launched this initiative in March 2021 to instill confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines.

The goal of "There's Hope Inside" was to disseminate up-to-date facts and stats, reinforce the safety/efficacy of the vaccines, the importance of getting vaccinated, and the continued reliance on the community to physically distance and wear a mask, as well as combating vaccine hesitancy on an emotional level. We took a multipronged approach to reaching people all over New Hampshire and Vermont with our message — paid social media posts, original social media content, billboards and placements in traditional media. 

In eight weeks, this campaign garnered over 10 million impressions and 16,000 clicks to the COVID-19 landing page of D-HH’s website. From early on in the pandemic, we felt a keen responsibility to keep our patients and the public informed with accurate, timely information as it became available, and the Hope Campaign was an outstanding success in doing just that.

Brian Deffaa. Chief Marketing Officer at LifeBridge Health (Baltimore): LifeBridge Health had grown through acquisition; we had strong institutions but each had their own history, traditions, procedures and culture. We were doing great work but had no identity as an organization; no galvanizing culture or purpose. We needed something that served as connective tissue for the larger system, made us stand-out in the mind of the consumer and gave our team members purpose. We created "Care Bravely" as our rally cry but also as a guide — no matter what your role is, how do you do it in service of the patient and true caring?

We also felt it was important to stand-out; both because the message was powerful but healthcare marketing often leans on the same motifs, images and lexicon and as a result, is not as powerful as it could be. We used black and white images, looking directly at the camera with a powerful but gruff voice over to give the campaign distinction and memorability. Since launch in 2019, we’ve more than doubled our awareness in a crowded mid-Atlantic market with strong and world-renown competition. Perhaps more importantly, our team members have fully embraced "Care Bravely".

Vickie White. Chief Brand and Marketing Officer at AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): One of the most meaningful campaigns I've had the privilege of being a part of is our Survivor Bell Choir campaign. We set out to tell a story of hope and healing, and left with a community of cancer survivors whose lives are cemented together through shared experience, support and genuine love for one another. 

In 2018, we assembled a bell choir with 18 cancer survivors from AdventHealth hospitals, who each had a powerful journey that included the ceremonial ringing of the bell to signify the end of their cancer treatment. These remarkable individuals were taught to perform Silent Night with handbells for a live concert that would be filmed and photographed for a powerful multimedia campaign. As a marketer, I was proud of this award-winning campaign and how it brought to life our brand promise — feel whole. I loved the production behind each asset, including the broadcast TV spot, the social media videos, the print ads, billboards and the many community activations. But as a person, I was most inspired by the stories of each survivor and the family they became. 

They still travel to see each other multiple times a year and celebrate the shared journey that they’re on. In their Facebook group, you witness a powerful support system as they share their continued health journeys, their personal ups and downs and pure joy as they interact. 

Many of them say their lives were changed as they played the handbells back in 2018. Mine was too.

Chris Roth. Chief Marketing Officer at UW Health (Madison, Wis.): Earlier this year, we saw COVID-19 vaccination rates starting to decline, with much of the problem being attributed to politics. We wanted to do something to encourage hesitant Wisconsinites to get the vaccine that was attention-getting and clearly showed this was an issue above and beyond partisan politics.  

Our idea: enlist the help of two well-known former governors who disagree on almost everything: Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Jim Doyle, to create a public service announcement. The resulting TV spot, titled "We agree," featured the governors on a Zoom call discussing the benefits of getting the vaccine. The spot included a cameo by UW Health’s Jeff Pothof, MD, whose nightly news appearances during COVID-19 had made him a familiar face in Wisconsin living rooms. The ad, which is light-hearted and charming, was picked up by 100 percent of the TV markets in the state, exceeding our highest hopes.

Susan Milford. Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at OSF HealthCare (Peoria, Ill.): The best campaigns are on strategy, have strong, relatable creative and achieve results. A recent campaign we did to encourage consumers to come back for their health screenings after skipping them in 2020 has become one of my favorites because it hits all the above key criteria and uses relatable pandemic humor. The headline on all three creative concept executions is, "Things have changed. Cancer hasn’t."

The relatable humor on three different ads includes a man hoarding toilet paper, a woman using large detergent bottles for home exercise and a bowl on a man’s head to cut his own hair. Each scenario has a strong call-to-action to visit osfhealthcare.org/get-screened where patients can sign up for a mammogram, colonoscopy and CT-lung screening. Results have been strong driving over 40,000 visits to the landing page, over 2,000 completed cancer screenings and 132 patients with a cancer diagnosis confirmed to date.

Cynthia Neiman. Chief Marketing Officer at Children's Hospital of Orange County (Calif.): Three years ago, we launched a campaign called "Long Live Childhood". The basic premise is that illness or injury should not interrupt the magic of childhood. We really focused on the positive of keeping kids healthy in order to protect them in this bubble of childhood for as long as possible.

The campaign really took on a life of its own when we first launched it internally. Our associates, providers, volunteers and donors were so taken with the campaign that now, as part of CHOC orientation, everyone at CHOC takes an oath to become a “defender of childhood” and receives a pin. Even much of our CHOC branded merchandise carries the “Long Live Childhood” slogan or “defender of childhood” logo. Every year, we expand the campaign a bit further, and I envision it being around for a long time to come.

Caryn Stancik. Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Cook County Health (Chicago): I can say without question that over the course of my 30 year career that I am most proud of our COVID-19 campaign and specifically the current phase, "Trust Us", which features our physicians asking patients and residents to trust them. We are in our first month of a $3 million media buy. We have asked healthcare workers to go above and beyond during this time and not once has anyone said no or "I'm too tired." Our doctors have cared for their patients and spent hours on public education, media and more to make sure people understand COVID-19 and the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

Ken Chaplin. Chief Marketing Officer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (Boca Raton, Fla.): When the pandemic worsened in 2020, cancer patients were in even more crisis as hospitals announced delays and postponement of non-emergent care due to COVID-19. Cancer patients seeking critical life-saving treatment and care needed to know that specialty hospitals, such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, were in a position to help. To get this message out, we launched the "Cancer Won't Wait" campaign.  

We let the nation know that delaying an annual cancer screening can lead to a higher staged cancer diagnosis. We featured our CEO, Pat Basu, MD, in the television portion of the campaign in which he said, "Whether it's here at CTCA, or somewhere else, please get the care you need."  I truly believe our "Cancer Won't Wait" campaign saved lives.

 

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