From Vanilla to Vibrant

Marianne Aiello , July 22, 2009

Gayle Sweitzer, director of marketing at Community Health Network in Indianapolis, projected that 2,000 locals would attend the grand opening of the organization's new flagship hospital. On the day of the event, 7,000 people turned up.

"It was a Sunday afternoon and it's a hospital building," Sweitzer says. "Everyone always wants to have their baby here, so I was thinking there will probably be a fair number of pregnant moms and we'll get some people out—but it's a Sunday afternoon in April, come on."

The expectation-exceeding event was one of the first indicators of the success of the "Community North Expansion" campaign, which won a gold award in the Best Integrated Campaign category at the 2008 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards. Community Health created the campaign to promote its new $180 million facility and because market research showed that Indianapolis consumers had a vanilla feeling about the organization.

Sweitzer and her marketing team worked with Indianapolis advertising firm Meyer & Wallis to create an integrated campaign consisting of print, outdoor, TV, direct mail, radio, and online marketing.

The following are highlights of Community Health's most impressive results:

  • Hospital admissions grew 8.42% over the prior year, and emergency department volume grew 8.73%.
  • Unaided top-of-mind awareness increased from 26% in October 2006 to 29% in June 2007.
  • Preference for Community Health for non-»» life-threatening situations rose from 27% to 30%. Its closest competitor is at 20% preference.

But what's most impressive is that the campaign generated an ROI of 1.06 to 1.

"I think the creative was interesting enough to people—that it was something they didn't expect—so when they saw it, it stood out and it created attention," she says."

Marianne Aiello is an editor with HealthLeaders Media. She may be reached at

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