The Neptune, NJ, hospital, which is part of Meridian Health System, created the cartoon character to increase brand awareness, develop relationships with young families, and build a database for ongoing communications for events and promotions. Judges for the HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards gave the organization the large hospital best in show award for the effort.
"Dr. Bernard is paired with our nurse educators at school and community events to demonstrate key messages about safety, nutrition, fitness, and respect," the hospital wrote in its award submission form. "A doctor should always have a good support staff, and Doctor Bernard is no exception. He is joined by fellow Pawsitive Action Team members, Hopskotch (a bunny) and Picatso (a cat)."
Marketers began outreach to elementary schools in summer 2008 and debuted Doctor Bernard and his new bus at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hospital's new expansion in October. The Doctor Bernard section of the hospital Web site has received more than 5,000 page views, accounting for 15% of all page views for the site. Keyword searches for the hospital jumped 600% during the fourth quarter 2008. As of May 15, 2009, 1,725 children had enrolled in the program—230% growth since December.
The HealthLeaders Media competition is weighted in favor of ad campaigns that set clear objectives, meet or exceed them, and show positive ROI.
"The Children's team set very clear objectives for both short-term and long-term success," wrote one of our judges. The strategy based around the Dr. Bernard mascot is fully developed and seems like it must really resonate with children and parents—plus, he's a cutie."
Congratulations to all of the winners
We've posted the complete list of winners online, and in coming weeks we'll be featuring some of their campaigns in our "Spotlight" feature, in HealthLeaders magazine, and in the Healthcare Marketing Advisor newsletter—so stay tuned.