Breakthrough campaigns always seem to stir up controversy.
The stars of the campaign are goats: a goat with a stethoscope at a dinner party, a goat in a suit on an airplane and a goat in a towel in a locker room, just to name a few.
The campaign tagline is “Let’s stop looking for scapegoats.” The intent is to get a discussion going about how everyone in the healthcare arena – doctors, hospitals, drug companies, lawyers and consumers should work together to reduce costs. A website, is designed to create a forum for dialogue.
While the tagline and visual imagery are somewhat literal for my personal taste, my first reaction is that this is a great campaign. I can’t tell you how many times a healthcare client has come to us asking for a campaign that will break through the clutter – look and sound different than the competition.
Those are clients I admire. I mean, really, how many more ads do we need with smiling doctors, nurses and patients in a hospital setting?
As such, I was incensed by this article in the News Observer.
“The ads are likely to spark a backlash among some consumers, physicians and others who question why a nonprofit with $5.2 billion in annual revenue needs to spend even more money on marketing. It’s also risky to use funny ads to tackle a contentious topic.”
Wow. Even if consumers are skeptical of Blue Cross’s motives, don’t all companies still have the right to market and communicate with constituents? Who is this reporter to question Blue Cross’s marketing budget? The website looks like a pretty legitimate forum for discussion. And one of the goats is labeled as “insurers,” which gives people the option to criticize insurance companies just as much as the other players in the equation.
And what about this part? “It’s also risky to use funny ads to tackle a contentious topic.” Really? Is that a well-documented fact that should be distributed without attribution to a source?
I’ve actually witnessed several instances in which humor can break the ice in tackling some very difficult discussions. Apparently, that was the strategy here.
“This is not to make light of a serious issue,” Brad Wilson, Blue Cross CEO said. “We made a conscious choice to use humor in this campaign as a way of opening the door to a conversation that can be complex and, at times, uncomfortable. Finding solutions to rein in medical costs is in the best interest of our company, our customers and everyone in North Carolina.”
In my opinion, even if Blue Cross riles people up with this campaign, they have a right to get their message out. And this is a topic that is extremely important to Blue Cross customers – both employers and employees. If Blue Cross wants to position itself as a leader in trying to control costs, more power to them, even if people are skeptical. All the more reason to spend money on a campaign and use humor to get people’s attention.
What do you think? Is Blue Cross courageous or crazy? Have you launched a campaign that broke through the clutter yet drew criticism? What happened? Did your management/board stand behind you? Did the campaign generate results or did it flop?
Share your stories please.