Healthcare advertising gone bad

I recently saw a campaign from a local hospital for their cancer center.   The visual? Black and white imagery of an emaciated, hairless woman with boxing gloves – apparently fighting cancer.

It’s hard to imagine that the creator of this ad has ever known anyone with cancer, or has researched people with cancer. One thing is for sure – there is nothing motivating or compelling to a cancer patient in imagery like this. The last thing they want to see at this difficult time in their lives is a bleak image of an ill patient.

Cancer patients need hope. They need the hope they can receive from great doctors, cutting edge treatments, and inspirational success stories. They need hopeful, positive images of people who have beat cancer – who have made it to the other side and are going on with their lives.

This goes back to one of the most basic rules of good advertising – know your target audience. How can you possibly sell something to someone that you don’t know or understand? You should know everything about your target – not only who they are, but what they think now, and what they should think after seeing your ad. This is even more critical when it comes to healthcare advertising.

The good news for this particular hospital is that it has an excellent reputation. And I’m sure its doctors are doing a great job in extending the life of its patients. Hopefully it doesn’t also extend the life of this particular ad campaign.


Posted by Julie Burmeister