munn rabot

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NYU Langone.

There’s no question the best advertising in NY for a health system or hospital is that of NYU Langone Medical Center. Creators Munn Rabot have been doing quality, no, expert healthcare ad craft for years and years.  The NYU TV ads are the kind that you have to stop and watch. Visually they’re cinematic. Musically they’re awakening. Copy-wise, quite strong.   All of this work, and the work Munn Rabot did for previous client NY Presbyterian, have led the category for years.

One thing they might do better, however, is tighten their brand idea. The line/strategy is “Made in New York.”  This presumes patient care and patients are different in NY. It poses the question “How does healthcare made in NY distinguish itself?”  I get the idea, but offer up the narrative is hard to deliver. They do get points for unique though (in healthcare, that is).  

Most consumers won’t cling to the need for a powerful brand idea served up daily, as I do; they just like the ads. And that should be enough. NYU Langone is back on big map. Well done.



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One of the foibles common in advertising is lack of adherence to brand strategy; more specifically to brand strategy claim.  A claim is only as good as its proof — and ads today are often bereft of proof. Here’s an example torn from the pages of The New York Times.  It has been a while since I priced a page in The Times but it wouldn’t be misleading to say the ad cost north of $75.

New York Presbyterian’s claim is “Amazing Things Are Happening Here.” It’s a wonderful and powerful brand idea developed by Munn Rabot. (They no longer do NYP’s ads.)  In an ad celebrating National Doctors Day the headline is the above stated claim.  Here is the copy. (See if you can find any proof.)

Every day, our doctors combine knowledge, curiosity, intuition and compassion in amazing ways.

They change patients’ lives. They advance the frontiers of medicine. And they ready the next generation of physicians to do the same.

On behalf of our patients, families, and everyone else whose lives you touch, thank you.

Advertising has two jobs. Accomplish the tactical objective which in this case is thank the docs. And second, advance the brand strategy “amazing things.”  This is another example of all claim, no proof.

Poor ad craft. Poorer brand craft. Peace.


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In branding, the strategic idea (or claim) is the bank. The ads, promotions, events and deeds of marketing are the deposits. The bolder the claim the better the branding. The weaker the claim the limper. When Orson Munn and Peter Rabot created the tagline “Amazing Things Are Happening Here,” for NewYork-Presbyterian, they went bold. Really bold. If the litmus for every ad was “amazing things” then they had their work cut out for them. When they learned Deathstalker Scorpion venom aided in treating brain cancer, they made an ad. When a child with rampant abdominal cancer had all of her organ’s removed so she could be treated and live to tell about it on a TV commercial, she amazed the country…on the Super Bowl.

It’s hard to be amazing every day, yet Messrs. Munn and Rabot built a brand doing so, making way more deposits than withdrawals. Munn Rabot no longer works with with NewYork-Presbyterian and it shows. NewYork-Presbyterian knows they own a great idea and kept the tagline but to the new regime, amazing means buying a new hospital (Lawrence Hospital) and investing in new equipment.NYPres ad (Click on ad from today’s NYT.) I’m sure there are lots of amazing things happening at Lawrence Hospital that could have been brought to light with a little digging. That’s branding trade craft. Unfortunately, that was lacking.

Ideas need heroes. Ideas need management. Alas.



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My old  TV gave out this week so I went off to Best Buy to get a flatty.  Nice deal but I have to wait until Wednesday – post NY Jets. 1080 something, twice the inches (size queen), 120hz.  Anyway, lots of friends have hi-def and large screens and I’ve always been impressed by the quality of the picture for sports, but last night for the first time I was impressed (watching at my friend Ed’s)by a large format, hi-definition ad.  An ad for New York Presbyterian. This ad would be good on a 4 year old iPhone with a broken screen, but with awesome audio and huge video it made my world stop.

You’ve probably seen Munn Rabot’s first ad in the campaign a while ago with Ed Koch.  Well, this spot could win Sundance. As a movie.  Check it out.

What an “amazing” use of the medium.  The size of the little girl in the screen. Black and white format. The script. I’ve done and seen a lot of good work in the healthcare space – as has Devito/Verdi – but Munn Rabot has pretty much perfected the practice of selling healthcare. Are any of you pharmaceutical advertisers listening?  These guys are surgeons.  Peace.

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One of the brand planks of the North Shore-LIJ Health System was “leading edge treatments and technology.” Unfortunately, this is a plank most every hospital in the country uses when developing advertising.  It was only when paired with North Shore’s two other planks, that the true brand story emerged.

One of North Shore’s competitors in New York is NewYork-Presbyterian. Today, NY-Pres broke a “leading edge treatments and technology” ad that beats most hands down.  If you don’t ask your doctor about NY-Pres after reading this ad, you are not paying attention. The campaign idea, by the way, is “Amazing things are happening here.”

The Deathstalker Scorpion’s venon contains chlorotoxin, which some crazy health geek found attaches itself to “specific brain cancer cells.” The docs and researcher at NY-Pres are trying to find ways to make chlorotoxin deliver radioactive atoms to cancer cells in the brain.  Wow! That’s some serious.

I’m not sure if Munn Rabot is still doing this advertising work, but it sure feels like them. It’s excellent storytelling and excellent work.

Okay, you are sick and have to pick a hospital. Any come to mind?

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For as long as I’ve know them, Orsun Munn and Peter Rabot of Munn Rabot have had a nice hand with their advertising. Always elegantly designed, often driven by a strong idea, these guys get it.
It’s an old advertising maxim that pictures of dogs and babies generate readership. One of Munn Rabot’s biggest clients, New York Presbyterian, uses two cute little white doggies as the focal point of a current print ad next to the headline “Amazing Things Are Happening Here.” The copy points out that NYP is using dogs therapeutically to help lower blood pressure and relieve depression, which is not really big news, but it goes on to offer that “dogs have even displayed an ability to provide early cancer detection through scent.”   That is news. That’s amazing. That’s an ad.
I often go on about how great copywriters and great planners find the brilliant kernel of information that can create a truly winning selling message. Whoever found this kernel earned his or her paycheck.

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