Campaign struts Health System’s stuff
By Katherine Ward
|A sampling of the Wow! campaign print ads published in local and national magazines.
The Health System’s Wow! campaign is all about pride — pride in its people and pride in its work: the innovation, the daily miracles, the new discoveries.
U.Va. doctors performing the first pediatric lung transplant from a living, related lung donor and physicians and researchers being awarded one of the largest NIH grants to study the links between diabetes and heart disease are but two examples of the remarkable stories that the campaign tells.
A number of employees continue to contribute to the campaign, developed by the HS marketing department and now in its second phase. A key member of the effort is Drew Stevenson, director of HS marketing communications, who came to U.Va. four-and-a-half years ago.
Stevenson said she spent her first year and a half here “constantly saying, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that!’” As a newcomer, she said U.Va.’s amazing work consistently surprised her. She found herself asking, “Do people know this stuff?”
To find the answer to that question, Stevenson worked with a national advertising agency. Together, they realized the answer was no. Many of U.Va.’s employees as well as the general public didn’t know the innovation occurring just down the road or corridor.
She and the agency came up with the concept of U.Va.’s “first and onlys” to make the public aware of the daily miracles being performed at U.Va.
By compiling remarkable statistics about the Health System and the doctors, nurses and researchers who work there, the marketing team has been able to display these facts in its Wow! campaign throughout the hospital, on buses, on the radio and in its publicity materials.
Stevenson’s communication plan was based on two fundamentals. First, consumers are getting smarter and smarter about their medical care choices. They need to understand the value of coming to an academic medical center with a high level of research and the highest caliber researchers from throughout the world.
Second, employees work better when they feel proud of their company. It is as important to educate employees about a company’s success as it is to educate the public, she said.
In launching the campaign, Stevenson realized that the information distributed should come from within. She made a call to all employees throughout the Health System for submittals of “factoids” — short blurbs with outstanding facts — about what makes U.Va. so great.
After they complied the facts, she and her design team — art directors Gail Hanchak and Diana Boven, writer Kelly Casey and media buyer Reecye Modney — created posters and print advertisements to kick off the campaign, which they did in September 2004. They also produced 68 10-second radio spots.
By now, most in the University community likely have come across a Wow! advertisement in some form. There are vibrant print ads in local and national magazines, whose colors correspond with the HS centers being highlighted, Stevenson said. For instance, “the cardio center ads are red, the Cancer Center ads are green, etc.,” she said. There also are small cubes throughout the Health System that have a different fact on each of the cube’s six sides. They are constantly being replaced, because they are constantly being taken, Stevenson said. However, this was the campaign’s intent for the cubes, she noted. It’s “the greatest compliment.”
Stevenson’s team even managed to negotiate use of all of the leftover space in the Sprint phone book for three years.
When it came time to launch phase II of the campaign, Stevenson put out another call to employees for a second round of factoids. The response was massive — they had enough entries to create another 300 factoids, and the second installation of 200 new posters throughout the Health System went up in August.
“Now we have all of these ‘first and onlys’ — which is what the Wow! campaign really is — reminding ourselves and [informing] the external public and saying, ‘This academic Medical Center is as good as you can get in terms of the care you require.’”