Minnesota 'underdog' hospital system mocks 'bad billing' in branding campaign

Who doesn't love receiving unexpected medical bills? North Memorial Health Care in Robbinsdale, Minn., mixes a healthy dose of sarcasm and dry humor in its new tongue-in-cheek branding campaign debuting Tuesday, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

The multimillion-dollar branding campaign, created by New York City-based BrandFire, plays to Americans' various frustrations with the healthcare system, from long wait times to opaque hospital billing practices.

"Healthcare is viewed by the public as broken," North Memorial CEO Kevin Croston, MD, told Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. "We wanted to let people know [North Memorial is] different — we understand and we're working to make it better."

The campaign features patients sarcastically praising irritating aspects of their healthcare experience, saying phrases like, "I love not knowing exactly how much my visit is going to cost — it makes healthcare so exciting," and, "I love being uninformed and totally uninvolved with my healthcare — it really makes me feel empowered."

The campaign includes TV commercials, radio spots, billboards and online ads. In the billboards and print ads, North Memorial portrays its brand as alleviating these frustrations by crossing out some words and replacing them with others.

For instance, one print ad reads, "The doctor will see you after you read an old issue of Fishing Life and you wonder if they forgot about you after sitting in your undies for 25 minutes." A red slash crosses out the end of the sentence, beginning on the word "after," changing the sentence to read, "The doctor will see you now."

Dr. Croston said the campaign appeals to North Memorial's spirit as the healthcare underdog in a market that has undergone substantial consolidation. "The other guys have all merged and we're the survivors. We're providing value and I think playing a vital role," Dr. Croston told Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

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