Campaign Spotlight: It's Critical

Kandace McLaughlin Doyle, for HealthLeaders Media , February 4, 2009

Click for larger image.How do you successfully advertise critical care—a service that most patients don't think about until they need it? Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center, in Richmond, VA, recently opened its Critical Care Hospital. They also launched a campaign to raise awareness of the new services to the community.

"We know that nobody is going to say, 'Well, I think I'm going to have a critical care need; I'm going to go on down to VCU,'" says Susan Dubuque, president of VCU's agency, Neathawk Dubuque & Packett, which has offices in Richmond and Roanoke, VA.

"We really wanted to give consumers in the region a sense of comfort. That was really the key message. We didn't want to focus on the blood and guts. We wanted to focus on the fact that any day at any time in the life of any person in Virginia, a critical care need could arise. And though you're not prepared for it isn't it wonderful to know that someone is?"

The multi-integrated campaign started with an internal communications effort followed by an external campaign that focused on four critical care specialties: burn, heart, cancer, and NICU. "We really tried to highlight the service areas from a product angle," says Dubuque, "and the fact that that all of those services are right there in one place."

The strategy behind the imagery was to provide various views of the types of patients that at some point might potentially need care at the Critical Care Hospital. This can be seen in an ad for the facility's burn center, which features a firefighter, and in an ad for the facility's NICU, which features an expectant couple.

"We know that despite all our best preventative efforts there are going to be babies born prematurely," says Marcos Irigaray, vice president of strategy and marketing for VCU. "That's why we're here, for the unexpected."

Kandace McLaughlin Doyle is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. Send her Campaign Spotlight ideas at 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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