Gut-Grabbing Messages: What Makes an Impression?

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media , August 24, 2011

Other services do lend themselves to a more lighthearted approach – such as wellness services and obstetrics care, Stamp says. Others warrant serious message in order to maintain credibility in the eyes of viewers.

"Fear is a very powerful emotion, but it is dangerous to use in healthcare advertising because it has the potential to cause people to just shut out the unpleasant message," he says. "Anti-smoking campaigns are an excellent example of where there is a fine-line between a compelling message and one that causes people to tune out."

"More positive approaches from smoking-cessation programs and pharmaceuticals that emphasize the message, 'We can help you kick this habit' generally have been more successful than ones that simply use scare tactics."

The most successful campaigns do play off the emotions of patients without crossing the line of being overly dramatic or trivializing the issue by being overly positive.

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at
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2 comments on "Gut-Grabbing Messages: What Makes an Impression?"

Andrew B. (8/30/2011 at 12:58 PM)
Healthcare creative executions need two things: Emotional resonance and technical excellence. I've used that simple premise for more than 20 years. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the follow-through on the promise. Creating a positive and compelling message is important, but if the patient experience is mediocre or lacking, all that marketing work goes right down the drain.

Donna Arbogast (8/25/2011 at 9:42 AM)
This supports a particular experience with women and heart disease messages. We had huge responses to campaigns that empowered women to take control, but we did try the "fear factor" once [INVALID] and we pulled that particular spot very quickly. Almost no response. In light of previous results, we were afraid that we were actually having a detrimental effect on the brand.




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