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Healthcare (B)Ads

I was watching a TV ad last night for a local hospital and groaned to the wifus as the fifth obligatory shot of a doctor group hit the screen. You’ve seen it before — the blue scrubs, four or five smiling heads. (Proper smiling is harder than surgery for some.)  The only things that set this spot apart from the hundreds of other interchangeable hospital spots was the fact that each doc/nurse held a card containing a smiley face. And each smiley face was on what I thought was an outline of the state of NC.  My wide told me it was a smiley face on a heart outline. A Valentines heart.

She thought it cute. Me not some much.

What was the muscle memory of the ad, which I think was created for Pardee Hospital?  If the cards they held were hearts, I’m assuming they have a cardiology practice.  Otherwise, the only take-away was they have a lot of white people working there, and 12.3% black. And they can all stand up.  The copy way gobbledy, the visuals deafening in their silence, no idea and, frankly, no heart. “We’re Here” advertising at is worst.

The state of the advertising art in healthcare continues to be at an all-time low. Search What’s The Idea? posts for comments about Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to see that even the best practitioners are lagging. Pity.

Peace.

 

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I like beer. More accurately, craft beer. The wifus was at Costco a few days ago and asked if I wanted a case of Kirkland craft beer. I’d seen them in the store but never paid them much mind. “No thank you” I texted back, but was too late. In the fridge last night looking for a Fat Tire or Montauk, Session IPA there was that case of Kirkland. Doh! So I tried one. Wasn’t bad.

I thought I’d heard somewhere that Kirkland was white-labelled by a more famous brewery. After checking the label it turned out the beer was brewed by an unfamiliar company in Minnesota or Wisconsin. A Google search suggested, based upon where your Costco is, it could also be brewed by Saranac or Gordon Biersch. What evs. Not the point,

The point is, what is the brand name on the label?  And what it says to the brain and the taste buds. Kirkland makes underwear. And olive oil. And batteries (maybe.) It therefore can’t make beer.

The smart men and women at Costco headquarters have to know this. They have a chance to establish a strong new brand in a not insignificant category. Let’s get to work on a new name.  The beer is spoiling.

Peace.

 

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Luxury Craft.

I love sushi but I also love money. The wifus and I debated whether or not to gift each other for Christmas two seats at a new exclusive sushi restaurant in NYC.  The per seat cost is $150. I’m assuming that doesn’t include drinks or tip and when you add a train ride to the list we’re talking mortgage payment money.  

I read today about a cured ham from Spain branded Iberico that sells, on the hoof, for $500. One famous cutter of said ham charges about $5,000 to perform the specialized act of serving this delicacy. These are examples of the luxury economy.  They touch the craft economy in that there’s mad craftsmanship going into each piece of sushi and slice of acorn-fed pig, but in my definition these are not craft economy examples.

The craft economy is about building and making things that are sustainable, fixable and have a low impact on the planet. It’s about saving, not wasting. There’s a place for everything in this wonderful world, but we are going to be a better place when the craft economy is more the norm. Peace!

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Listening.

Socially awkward is a term I am hearing more and more these days. Usually it refers to people who are uncomfortable while with other people. The socially awkward, when they communicate, tend to lack social sensitivities. I would add to that definition a new behavior I’m seeing a lot whereby people don’t really listen to one another. That is more awkward.

A smart web and marketing company up in New Hampshire called First Tracks Marketing has posted about the ability to truly listen in business development and it has paid dividends.  NPR did a piece recently (the wifus mentioned it, think she was telling me something?) in which they cited how America Indians in tribal council allow a person to speak, but then make everyone wait a good amount of time before another speaker goes, creating time to think about what was said.

The problem with many marketing plans today (and brand plans for that matter) is that they are socially awkward.  They suffer from running their mouths, without really listening. Now I understand advertising is a broad cast medium but ads based-on listening and research score better. Connect better. Also ads that don’t kitchen sink the form. With the web, engagement scores go up as we listen to consumers. Polls were an early marketing winner on Facebook.

One of my greatest emails ever was to MT Carney, an early owner of Naked Communications. In it I told her I had a great ear. That was pretty much it.  Got the meeting.

So listen up marketers. It’s not an art – it’s a commerce.  Peace!

 

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lululemon pantsThe first time I heard of Lululemon I was on a weekend marketing retreat with a number of women at the invitation of Nfinity, a wonderful women’s athletic footwear company.  I was a last minute replacement for a woman who had to beg out.  Most of the ladies were aware of Lululemon and sang its praises. They loved the category (yoga), styles (great looking, great fitting) but what they spoke most about was quality. I’ve never done downward dog in my life, but to hear them talk I was ready to buy. 

Come Christmas, off I went to buy the wifus some Lululemon yoga pants. Trying to explain hip size using your own hips to a young, comely salesperson is uncomfortable. But successful I was and I opted for a yoga mat too, hedging my bet. Hee hee.

As I read about Lulu’s quality problems today, which include previous grievances about material pitting, seam unraveling and color bleeding, I see how far the company have come. Backwards. Even with sales and revenue up  thirty plus YOY, someone has taken their eye off the ball. (Not sure if their equity partners or public stock offering put undue pressure on the company, but quality has faltered, even as the brand had grown.)

Quality is a tough brand plank to build around.  It’s most important in categories where it’s not common. Otherwise, quality is the price of entry.  But in yoga, where stress and strain and exertion are part of the experience it’s not a bad play. Lululemon needs a quality facelift. And fast! Peace.

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Healthy Marketing.

He wifus stepped on the bunny’s neck 2 weeks ago (don’t ask) and it caused the big critter  a swollen throat and a good deal of eating discomfort.  Off to the exotic pet hospital she went and with some digestive meds and a bit of gruel all is right with the world. Last evening the bunny doctor’s assistance called to ask how “Alphie” is doing.  The assistant knew about the throat, jaw and prognosis and asked smart questions. She would make a report to the doctor, who would call based upon what I told her, if there was a need.  Poos were part of the conversation.

Most regular doctors today only call remind you of your appointment.  I’m sure HIPPA keeps non-docs from knowing about some of our maladies, but it seems to me a well informed follow-up call from someone at the office, would not only set a patient at ease but clear up some poor patient behaviors. It’s good medicine and good marketing. It is good after care.

Over the next 5-10 years there will be some very exciting changes to healthcare.  We will be remove waste from the system, improve patient records and systematize treatment modalities. Only about 3% of healthcare money spent in the U.S. is preventative, the rest is treatment. Unlike any other civilized country.  That needs to change. A well-placed call from the doctors office following a visit is a start.  After care builds loyalty and behavior change. And not just in healthcare. Peace.

 

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