Who Says Celebrities Aren’t Good Healthcare Spokespeople?

We’ve all heard it said at some point haven’t we? “Healthcare and celebrities don’t mix.” “Doesn’t make for effective advertising”. “Consumers only remember the celebrity, not the health system”.

Well, not so fast. It’s not the celebrity per se that’s the problem; it’s who you choose and how you use them.

Choosing the right celebrity requires that you first truly know your own brand: its positioning, its personality, its intended audience and your intended message. Then, compare all that with a celebrity’s own brand traits. Bumping them up against one another is the only way you’ll ferret out who stands up well next to your brand.

Let’s say, for example, that your brand’s personality is warm and academically inclined. Then, a celebrity such as Sylvester Stallone might not be your best option, but someone like Charlie Rose might be. Or, if the celebrity has experienced your brand themselves—perhaps they’re even a member of your health system—then, pow, they have some credibility.

But face it, how often is that really the case? Chances are more likely your ad agency thought the celebrity would break through the clutter or said celeb just happened to be available at the right time for the right budget.

What’s the typical result of this not-so-thoughtful approach to celebrity selection? Well, have you ever watched a spot or seen a healthcare ad with a celebrity and were left scratching your head wondering what the heck they have to do with that particular health system? Well, remember, celebrities have their own brand position in consumers’ minds. A mismatch can leave everyone wondering, but the right match can work wonders.

The latest work for Edward-Elmhurst Health is an example of how to use a celebrity’s own brand image to successfully mirror your own. Here, we have a female race car driver, Danica Patrick, who had to be highly driven to succeed in a male-dominated sport. Her driven nature parallels nicely with Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare’s brand launch of “Healthy Driven.” As an added bonus to the new brand, Danica originates from Chicago, the same city where Edward-Elmhurst is located.

Then, throw into the mix that the CEOs at this health system are two highly driven females themselves, and you have an exciting fit for the “Healthy Driven” brand. So, while we all may have heard the danger of only remembering the celebrity and not the brand, it doesn’t have to be that way. When you make the right connection to the brand, a celebrity can help you soar. My advice: Don’t listen to the conventional wisdom that “celebrities don’t work for healthcare.” Listen to your own brand’s heart and soul instead.

Debbie Karnowsky

Executive Creative Director