...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Monday, June 05, 2006


Scene: A meeting at a hospital for approval of copy for nurse-recruitment TV spot.

Agency account exec reads copy to client:

AE: …why are we a great place to work? Because we’ve got a cast of thousands who really care…”
Hospital Marketing Person: Wait. “Cast of thousands?” What’s that?
AE: Uh, oh, you know, it’s…
HMP: We don’t have a “cast.” This is a hospital. Plays have casts. We have a team. How about “…we’ve got a team of thousands…”?

Now, here’s an opportunity. But the AE misses it. Instead of answering, “No, see, ‘cast of thousands’ is kind of a cute figure of speech the writer put in there--it doesn't work as 'team of thousands'--but hey, you’re right, it doesn’t work, and your nurse’ll never deliver it right, so let’s take it out. How about “…because we’ve got a great team of people who really care…”

...no, instead of fixing a young copywriter’s attempt to be creative, the push-me-please-you AE says, “Oh, you’re so right. I don’t know what that silly writer was thinking. (WRITING) ‘…team...of...thousands.’”

So, on the finished TV spot, the smart-looking, wholesome nurse (there she is on their Web site) gazes sincerely into the lens and says, “…'cause we’ve got a team of thousands…

I made this scene up, but I know I'm right about how Valley Medical Center, the first Seattle area hospital to embrace TV advertising, made a good nurse and an otherwise good-looking TV spot go lame.


Shannon Seery said...

While it is hard to balance "pleasing your clients" with "the bad creative that can be the result of giving in to their input” - it is still impressive that the ad agency talked them into spending their recruitment ad dollars on a TV spot...

I question more the recruitment ad agency executive that lets this hospital have an online careers section on their website where a nursing candidates' only option is to PRINT OUT the application and deliver in person, fax or via snail mail...

They're even in SEATTLE!


Good points, Shannon. Thanks for posting. Recruitment is, maybe, the only justification I'm sort of willing to accept for hospitals advertising, and it's a stretch for me to say that. And, yes, healthcare is having the same problem "getting" the Internet as other industries. The mail-order pharmacy my family uses requires our doctors to fax new prescriptions to them, though I could do it from home, though we can order refills online. Go figure.