Memorial Sloan Kettering

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The new advertising for Memorial Sloan Kettering has great potential yet under-delivers. The idea or promise is “More Science. Less Fear.” MSKCC the CC stands for Cancer Center) is known for its best-in-class cancer outcomes. If ever you have a chance to speak with someone who has been treated there, you know that they understand the science. Intimately. So the promise (brand idea) is dead on. But if you read or listen to ads on the radio you get no science. You get generalities. “We treat every cancer patient differently.” We us a team of specialist.” Flah flah. I was doing ads like that as a kid.

I’m not sure where the breakdown is. MSKCC has the proof. They have the science to educate consumers – they just don’t seem to use it. Perhaps they believe we’re not all science majors and won’t be able to process the info. Not so. The narrative doesn’t have to be in chemistry 401 language.

Branding and advertising is all about claim and proof. MSKCC has the claim…it’s the proof they’re having difficulty with. Proof of more science, should be the easiest part of the equation.

It will get better. There are smart people at the helm. Peace.

 

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 One of the fastest growing content areas on YouTube (data source: me) is healthcare channels. Hospitals and health systems are uploading talking head videos at an amazing rate. One large nationally recognized hospital recently uploaded 25 videos by lunchtime.  YouTube has a way to go in perfecting its channel tools but visitors can search by clinical area, date added, most viewed, and top rated.

Healthcare provider companies are not known for their marketing expertise — they are too busy saving lives — but the move into YouTube is a smart one.  Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a family member with a health problem? The quality of these videos is quite good, albeit a bit over-polished.  If you remove the occasional singing video encouraging employees to wash their hands, you’re left with a body of work where humans talk to humans in understandable English, removing the magic.

Personally, I find the videos that don’t feel too scripted the best. Two docs at Memorial Sloan Kettering were talking on camera, sans make-up, and it felt very different from the norm, very real. The hospital has a reputation for clinical coolness and this video worked to change my attitude.

The ROI problems is this — these videos cost a good deal of money to produce and some get 28 views while others get 28,000 views.  As these channels grow in search sophistication and the video producers evolve, we are going to see some serious, serious advances traffic. This is big, important business. Peace! 

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When first working on the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System business I thought I was going to dislike the category. Now I’m a fan.  Perhaps I was conditioned to think healthcare was bad and unexciting because the ads were so bad.   My agency,  Welch Nehlen Groome, made recommendations to North Shore to manage the brand as if a consumer packaged good: land on a strategic idea, organized it, stick to it and use the it to manage the client. The approach paid off. In our market “Setting new standards in healthcare”- a promise every healthcare provide would aspire to – was better known than “the best cancer care anywhere” the promise of Memorial Sloan Kettering.

What turned me around on healthcare was the depth and complexity of the sell. It offered very fertile ground for connecting with consumers.  If you did your homework, you could hear great stories about the human condition. Talk about finding the pain?  Stories about relationships, e.g., caregiver, doctor patient, etc. Even stories about heroism.  Then there was the science side of the storytelling.  What the docs did. The role of diagnosis, R&D, the team.  Suffice it to say a lot of info could go into the making of an ad.

The Hospital For Special Surgery ran an ad in the NY Times today that is half brilliant. The headline is “Our doctors work hard to perfect joint replacement. Our scientists work hard to prevent them.” Buried in the copy are no less than 5 awesome stories waiting to be told —  waiting to convince people to jump in their cars to go to HSS. But the stories won’t be read; the headline was either written by a tyro or a beat down writer too busy to connect. Too busy to change or save a life.  When we get advertising right in the digital age, those five stories will be linked web videos. In print, they will be underlined and printed in blue to let readers know there is multimedia attached. When we get advertising right in the digital age, we will write headlines that jab us like a needle. Peace!

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