Humor's Role in Healthcare Marketing

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media , May 18, 2011

"This is not to make light of a serious issue," Brad Wilson, CEO of BCBSNC, said in a recent News & Observer article. "We made a conscious choice to use humor in this campaign as a way of opening the door to a conversation that can be complex and, at times, uncomfortable. Finding solutions to rein in medical costs is in the best interest of our company, our customers and everyone in North Carolina."

Humor is tough because it can be mistaken for downplaying the issue at hand. Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina has also used humor to highlight selected healthcare services or departments. Its television campaign features scenarios of people injuring themselves during the holidays. The tagline is: "We see some crazy things during the holidays. Please try and take it easy this year, have a safe and merry Christmas."

The physical comedy of holiday accidents in the Christmas commercial of 2010 won Lexington Medical Center an Aster Award in Healthcare Advertising, a national healthcare marketing award competition based on creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design, and overall impact.

In the Lexington Medical Center campaign, the acting is over-the-top and makes the point that the ad is meant to be taken light-heartedly. In the BCBSNC campaign, though the ad is meant to be humorous, the issue at hand is a serious one.

I can see laughing at hanging a wreath or tripping down the stairs, but escalating healthcare costs…? Not so funny to me.

What role does humor have in healthcare? Discuss in the comments section below.

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at
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1 comments on "Humor's Role in Healthcare Marketing"

roxablan (5/18/2011 at 11:42 AM)
When it comes to healthcare marketing, using humor can be a rewarding tactic. Afterall, people living with severe medical conditions or facing crucial decisions regarding insurance, hospitalization and choices in care don't want to be constantly inundated with bleak messages. Life is tough, and decisions related to healthcare are serious. But seeing the humor in trying circumstances is also healthy and life-affirming. It's puts it all in perspective. We should remember that, so very often, laughter is the best medicine.




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