Sick Kids makes patients and families the stars in new campaign

Antonio Albino struggles a little to hit the high notes, but Sick Kids Hospital is working hard to ensure the four-year-old cancer patient will have plenty of time to find his voice. Albino is one of several patients ranging in age from 17-months to 17-years old starring in the Toronto hospital’s newest marketing campaign. The […]

Antonio Albino struggles a little to hit the high notes, but Sick Kids Hospital is working hard to ensure the four-year-old cancer patient will have plenty of time to find his voice.

Albino is one of several patients ranging in age from 17-months to 17-years old starring in the Toronto hospital’s newest marketing campaign. The youngsters are afflicted by conditions ranging from brittle bone disease to various childhood cancers and organ transplants. Many are in active treatment.

Building on its “Together we will” brand positioning introduced about three years ago, Sick Kids’ new campaign uses the late Roy Orbison’s 1988 song “You Got It” as a backdrop.

Created by JWT, TV and online ads feature Sick Kids staff, patients and their families singing a slowed down version of the song that brings lyrics like “Every time I look/into your lovely eyes/I see a love/that money just can’t buy” to the fore.

“Part of the plan this year was to go back to a place we’re really quite familiar with from an emotional perspective,” said Lori Abbott, director of marketing for Sick Kids Foundation, the hospital’s fundraising arm. “It’s really key for us to inspire people to give simply by leveraging a positive message of hope.”

The campaign debuts Nov. 12 with a 60-second umbrella spot airing on both conventional and specialty networks that showcases approximately 50 Sick Kids staff, patients and families in a variety of hospital settings. The ad will also be shown at six Cineplex theatres in Toronto.

The spot is also being “heavily supported” by digital, as well as print and out-of-home advertising – including subway takeovers – said Abbott. The “Together we will” positioning is also the basis for a series of print and out-of-home ads, which feature messages like “Together we will… make a hospital feel nothing like a hospital.”

A mural that is part of a subway domination shows a five-year-old leukemia patient named Hunter Kemp and all of the various people at Sick Kids who touch his life, from doctors and nurses to researchers, anesthesiologists and even a therapeutic clown. It is accompanied by the tagline “Together we will… no matter how many of us it takes.”

The campaign runs through the end of the year and coincides with a peak period for charitable giving. “We know it’s a time when people are making the end-of-year decisions about where they’re going to give their charitable dollars,” said Abbott. “We want to have high awareness of the Sick Kids brand during this fundraising period and we want to be people’s charity of choice when they’re making those giving decisions.”

Sick Kid’s recent campaigns have focused heavily on research as the hospital attempted to create awareness of a new $400 million research facility it is currently constructing in downtown Toronto, but the new campaign is aimed at general fundraising.

About two-and-a-half years ago, the hospital adopted what Sick Kids Foundation’s vice-president of communications David Estok called a “single brand” strategy in which both the hospital and its fundraising arm now go to market under the name Sick Kids.

“We work more closely than ever with the hospital in developing materials that will be going out publicly,” he said. “Previously it would just say Sick Kids Foundation or Sick Kids Hospital, but now it’s just a single brand.”

Media for the campaign was overseen by Maxus Media.

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