A Campaign to Save Your Brain

Kandace McLaughlin Doyle, for HealthLeaders Media , October 22, 2008

Click to watch video.Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) recently took on the challenge of battling the perception of invincibility among youths with some guerilla marketing and a simple message: Save Your Brain.

The 'Save Your Brain' campaign came about as a result of recent clinical research that indicated more than 1.4 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) each year—100,000 of whom are from Minnesota, and most of whom are young adults. So, Minneapolis' HCMC took on the challenge of targeting that hard-to-reach market.

"When [we] first pitched our ideas to Hennepin County Medical Center it was evident that they understood that the manner we delivered the message was just as important as the message itself," said Brent Doering, VP of Client Services at HCMC's agency Russell Herder.

The team chose to deliver the message using a multi-phase campaign which gave the facility a chance to get out into the community. Hoping to engage, the campaign was brought to youth friendly areas and sporting events. Playing off of people's curiosity, guerilla marketing in the form of temporary tattoos, coasters, a rolling community awareness bathtub (see click-through video), and a Brain Bar were used to try to deliver the message in a non-obtrusive way.

"The Brain Bar is an interactive kiosk, staffed with specialists where people can get literature, interact, and communicate about TBI," says Doering. "There are also computers set up at the brain bar which allowed participants to explore the campaign's site for a more educational approach." The information on the site, according to Doering, was specifically written with a more relaxed and youth-friendly tone. While on the site, visitors can also try their hand at building their own brain while learning the different areas and how a TBI could affect each area.

The somewhat unconventional tactics proved effective. Within the first 24 hours of the campaign, HCMC received over 50 calls to schedule an examination for a potentially undiagnosed brain injury. To date, the campaign has generated more than 1.1 million impressions in broadcast, print, and online media coverage. The site has tracked over 3,000 unique visitors, and more than 1,000 people built their brain on the site from the interactive Brain Bar.

"Overall, this campaign increased awareness, curbed perceptions, and helped generate service line revenue for HCMC while simultaneously continuing our momentum in repositioning the organization," Doering says. "One thing that was really incredible to me was that the campaign has also made an impact on me, personally," says Doering. "I always wore a helmet when I biked, not so much when I would roller blade. Now, I do."

Kandace McLaughlin Doyle is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. Send her Campaign Spotlight ideas at kdoyle@healthleadersmedia.com If you are a marketer submitting a campaign on behalf of your facility or client, please ensure you have permission before doing so.

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