Children inspire health network ad campaign

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This billboard is one of 11 that Lehigh Valley Health Network is using to tell the region about its children’s services.
This billboard is one of 11 that Lehigh Valley Health Network is using to tell the region about its children’s services.

“Today I am better.”

That is the honest and simple approach Lehigh Valley Health Network’s marketing team was looking for – and it inspired one of 11 billboards that have blanketed Greater Lehigh Valley highways since October.

It’s the latest advertising campaign for LVHN’s children’s hospital, and the billboards – featuring artwork by child patients – have stirred positive emotion and feedback in the community.

LVHN needed a way to attach a name to the 28 specialized children’s services that its three hospitals have offered the past six years, and since the Children’s Hospital Association in 2012 officially designated it as a children’s hospital. Although the designation is not attached to a particular building, LVHN named its entire group of children’s services the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital and wanted to let the community know about it.

The marketing team at LVHN chose to do it through the eyes of its patients – the children.

“It’s not about what the ads say; it’s about how they make you feel,” said Jo Ann Hart, director of marketing at LVHN.

The marketing team was tasked with creating a campaign that would capture the brand of LVHN in a bold and different way. LVHN hired Mangos advertising agency in Montgomery County, placing it in the hands of the company’s co-owner, Bradley Gast, and his team of designers.

“What attracted me to want to work with LVHN is they don’t treat their patients like little adults,” Gast said. “They treat them like children.”

By accumulating information from several months of hospital site visits, observing patients, interviewing doctors and nurses and looking through the many drawings that the children made during his visits, Gast developed a campaign concept.

His team would create near-replica designs of nine of the 11 drawings that the children made, which were a simple and honest reflection of what the children were feeling while experiencing or overcoming illness at the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Two of the drawings were clear enough to be used as is.

“It’s so nice when you have the opportunity to tell a story,” Gast said. “And it’s rewarding to work on something that impacts lives.”

The billboards feature simple phrases – such as “Dr. Amy rules,” “I go home today” and “My arm is fixed” – and artwork originally done in crayon by children who were patients at LVHN.

By keeping it simple, according to Gast, he was able to increase LVHN’s chance to communicate its message, stand out and influence behavior – all tactics he said are essential to a successful ad campaign.

“A good story will always be memorable,” he said.

In addition to the billboard spots with Adams Outdoor Advertising, LVHN also purchased ad space for the campaign in the Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall Township, using banners that resemble the billboards. The banners are hung in the central focal point of the mall.

“People get the power in what it’s saying,” Gast said. “The drawings have the impact.”

Gast used lighter and heavier themes, including pediatric cancer, for the billboards. The campaign brings the daunting reality of pediatric cancer to a simpler, child-like light, as one of the billboards reads, “Cancer Zap.”

“If LVHN knows how the children at its hospital are feeling, they will know how to help them,” Gast said.

The billboards are set up along Routes 22, 33 and 309, as well as on Interstate 78. They are rotated periodically to assure that all of the messages in the campaign are received.

“This campaign is so different than anything else that is being done [in the Lehigh Valley],” said Tim Laubach, account representative for Adams Outdoor Advertising, which provided the billboards. “We have gotten amazing feedback on it.”

To maintain an inclusive culture at LVHN, the marketing team spent a lot of time considering feedback from many staff members and administration before settling on the idea.

“The approach to our campaigns is to provide messages that people can relate to,” Hart said. “It’s not us talking about us.”

The ongoing billboard campaign works in conjunction with a local television and radio campaign for the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, titled “guardians of tomorrow’s superheroes,” also produced by Mangos.

“When we develop a campaign, we want to bring it to life in many different forms of media,” Hart said. “We are trying to help the community to see the depth and breadth of our services.”

With 71 general pediatricians and 81 pediatric specialists, the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital provides 28 specialty care services, including for critical care, burn care and cancer.

Patients can receive outpatient care in the children’s emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital- Cedar Crest in South Whitehall, the only one of its kind in the region. Children can be treated at the pediatric outpatient surgery center at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg in Bethlehem. And children can receive services at the pediatric outpatient infusion area and the pediatric sleep center at Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th Street in Allentown.

Laubach credited Mangos for an out-of-the box, creative campaign.

“It kind of pulls on your heartstrings,” Laubach said. “People really have a connection with kids.”

Jennifer Glose

Jennifer Glose

Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferg_LVB and read her blog, “Networking,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/networking-blog.

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