"The celebrity is not the star; our medicine is the star," says Julie Amor, vice president of marketing at The University of Kansas Hospital. "So we needed to make sure that this person first and foremost was an advocate for academic medicine and second, whose presence enhanced but did not overshadow the message."
The key to The University of Kansas Hospital's campaign—and it's very successful—is that finding a spokesperson with "star-power" was not a priority.
"It was about looking for someone who matched the qualities, characteristics, and culture of the institution," explains Patti Winegar, managing partner for SPM Marketing & Communications, the La Grange-IL firm The University of Kansas Hospital works with on the campaign.
"Academic medical centers are a vital force in advancing medical achievements in the United States. Their discoveries change lives. It makes sense that institutions of this level of importance would capture the attention of prominent people."
And the prominent person The University of Kansas Hospital first signed on in 2004 was Tom Skerritt, of "Top Gun" and "Steel Magnolias" fame.
"Tom Skerritt became a part of our family for five years," says Amor. "He walked the streets of our city when he was here filming [and] he attended several functions at the hospital."
Marketers chose Skerritt because he was from the Midwest and possessed understated presence, believability, and trustworthiness.