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Kids's Hospital Colorado shakes up conventional messages

In a child’s emergency situation, parents automatically think “where’s the nearest hospital?” Children’s Hospital Colorado wants to change that to “where’s the nearest children’s hospital?”

The hospital debuted a PSA campaign to educate parents about the physiological differences between adults and children. In the spot, kids point out the differences, like faster heartbeats, immature immune systems and smaller blood platelets. 

As one kid dressed exactly like his father says, “I’m not a mini-you, I’m different.”

The campaign is based on research that shows that 89% of pediatric emergency department visits occur in non–children’s hospitals, but only 6% of emergency departments have all the required equipment for pediatric care.

Children’s Hospital Colorado worked with Fig to develop the campaign, which launched this week. Fig was named the hospital’s brand, creative and media AOR in February.

The goal of the campaign is to educate parents about these differences between children and adults, so when they are in an emergency situation with their child, going to the children’s hospital will be their first thought.

“This campaign is geared to emergency care, not when you’re in the market for a hospital and you’re weighing options for long-term care,” said Brian Eden, creative director at Fig. “It’s for when you’re in the heat of the moment, when your kid is sick and you’re jumping into the car. We need to have it already in their head to go to the children’s hospital.”

Children’s Colorado, with locations in Denver and Colorado Springs, is running the campaign in these two metro areas. The spots will appear on TV and digital with additional ads on social, display, audio, out-of-home and print.

The campaign is also working to change common misperceptions of children’s hospitals, Eden said. Many think that these hospitals are only  for seriously ill kids, not everyday issues like broken bones.

The ads also showcase some of the hospital’s special pediatric care, like virtual reality headsets to distract kids during some procedures and different radiation protocols for kids who need to undergo x-rays or MRIs.

“The creative idea was based on the understanding that if something is wrong with their kid, [parents] will take them to whatever hospital is closest,” Eden said. “There is a perception issue with children’s hospitals that it’s the place you go for something more seriously wrong, more life-threatening. Parents don’t realize that kids need to go to a children’s hospital for everyday injuries or illnesses, things that are not quite as dire.”

The ads are also a departure from traditional hospital marketing that often shows patients who had miraculous recoveries from serious diseases. However, that messaging is what causes the perception issues about when to go to children’s hospitals, Eden said.

“The pull-the-heartstrings messaging was one of the things that was causing the issue of people not thinking this is the place people go for an emergency,” he explained. “We were taking on an issue within this category of marketing and treating children’s hospital advertising in a way that it hasn’t before to get people to think about it differently.”


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