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Inova Children's Hospital: A Mock Case Study for Cultural Strategy

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This case study is based on a real business problem I worked on during my internship at RP3 Agency, only this brand strategy takes a very different turn from the one the agency actually presented to Inova Children's Hospital.

Here, I take some of the trends and insights we uncovered at the agency, add some of my own, and take an approach loosely based on Holt and Cameron's "Cultural Strategy Model." Thanks for watching.

Inova Children's Hospital: A Mock Case Study for Cultural Strategy

  1. 1. Inova Children’s Hospital<br />a mock case study for cultural strategy<br />
  2. 2. Inova Children’s Hospitalhad been its own brand for years, but tell their customers and they would be surprised– for them, the hospital was just another branch of Inova Health Center, the large web of hospitals in the Northern Virginia area. <br />
  3. 3. To make matters worse, parents viewed the brand as a solution for special cases only.<br />The hospital built its reputation around specialties like its neonatal intensive care unit and, as result, fewer parents visited Inova for reasons they considered mundane. <br />
  4. 4. To Inova, this was a greater challenge than competing with nearby hospitals. <br />Its largest competitor, Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, had set its sights on the national stage.<br />Inova’s audience remained mostly local.<br />
  5. 5. The key problem, then, was perception. <br /> Inova wanted to be seen as a vital resource in the Fairfax community, the “pediatrician around the corner” regardless of the case’s severity.<br />In short, it needed a new brand image. <br />
  6. 6. Slides 10 – 19explore the Inova Children’s Hospital customer and the ways they perceive their own community<br />Slides 20– 28 cover the sorts of tensions that have entered the modern household, creating new challenges for parents. <br />
  7. 7. Slides 29 – 39 show how the dominant discourse of hospital advertising fails to address these tensions, instead resorting to cheap escapism.<br />Slides 40 – 45 pinpoint a growing trend of New Urbanism, which potentially makes Inova’s audience more receptive toward cultural innovation <br />
  8. 8. Slides 46 –56 demonstrate how we can harness that trend to break free from the category discourse and paint Inova Children’s Hospital as the thread that ties the Fairfax community together.<br />
  9. 9. Finally, slides 57 – 65 show the ways other brands have used advertising as a way to inspire community imagination<br />Let’s get started. <br />
  10. 10. On the surface, Fairfax seems like an odd place to call a “community”<br />A suburb to Washington DC, Fairfax is a sprawling web of homes, strip malls, and small office buildings. <br />
  11. 11. It hosts regular events like the Chocolate Lovers Festival but, for the most part, lacks a vibrant community center and mass narratives that inspire a “public imagination” <br />
  12. 12. Yet, to understand the Inova Children’s customer is not to dwell on what Fairfax lacks– but to explore what it offers.<br />
  13. 13. First, the suburbs have always been more about intimate private space than a vibrant public center.<br />
  14. 14. As suburban living blossomed in the decades that followed World War II, advertisements for consumer goods indirectly promoted the suburbs as well, equating them with prosperous family life.<br />
  15. 15. Moreover, the suburbs are an answer to the “chaos” of the city. They bring as close to reality as possible the fantasy of the woodland cottage with promises of comfort, stability, and personal space. <br />
  16. 16. Yearnings for suburban life also complement the direction that social ties have taken since 1985 <br />
  17. 17. A 2006 study published in the American Sociological Review* discovered a significant shedding of personal connections between 1985 and 2004, mostly of friendships not connected directly to family.<br />* Written by M McPherson, L Smith-Lovin, and M Brashears<br />
  18. 18. In their place is a smaller but more intimate network that revolves around the closest family members.<br />
  19. 19. What does all this mean? <br />The people who move to places like Fairfax are not looking for a vibrant public sphere. <br /> Their priority is stability and intimacy, the chance to nurture their new families. <br />
  20. 20. Yet, even if Fairfax residents see the city as part of a search for stable living, moving to Fairfax hardly signals the end. <br />
  21. 21. The middle class suburban household has become a perilous negotiation between private life and public pressures<br />
  22. 22. First, the public discussion over mental health issues like bipolar disorder, ADHD, and autism<br />
  23. 23. The “science of childcare” is in constant flux, presenting parents with relentlessly shifting issues of the day.<br />
  24. 24. Second, as entertainment becomes a private affair, and leisure time means time alone, the family grows increasingly isolated from one another.<br />
  25. 25. Parents are left to worry what sort of digital lives their children lead.<br />
  26. 26. Third, middle class families are time-strapped. More than likely, they have enlisted their kids in a full schedule’s worth of sports and extracurriculars in an effort to “cultivate life skills.” <br />
  27. 27. Most importantly, today’s work culture devalues childcare. <br />Even though households are largely dual-income, the corporate world is still less than hospitable toward parental needs<br />
  28. 28. Since the 70s, American workers have taken fewer vacations and have worked more hours. <br />Add to the mix the latest economic downturn, and you have an entire workforce unable to dedicate more time to domestic life due to workload or even fear of losing their job.<br />
  29. 29. Parents therefore need resources to help them face these growing complexities.<br />Yet, the category climate fails to address the tensions of everyday life.<br />Instead, the hospital ads I studied almost universally used tones of rapturous transcendence. <br />
  30. 30. Through their visual and spoken language, they cast themselves as a larger-than-life presence. They deliver miracles. They restore childhood.<br />In the world of the ads, mundane concerns come second to fantastical visions. <br />
  31. 31. Click on the thumbnails to watch each ad. Notice how the lighting, camera angles, soundtrack, and even narration convey grandiosity and drama<br />Philadelphia Children’s Hospital<br />Johns Hopkins Children’s Center<br />Hurley Medical Center<br />
  32. 32. Even Children’s National Medical Center has adopted a brand message based on transcending the everyday.<br />
  33. 33.
  34. 34.
  35. 35.
  36. 36. These ads’ copy may be tiny, but the visual language is clear-- monuments rise toward the sky, dwarfing the children below them. <br />
  37. 37. Combined with the tagline “the nation’s children deserve nothing less,” the ads invoke narratives of nationalism that appeal to a force greater than the patients themselves. <br />
  38. 38. In some ways, this tone of transcendence does address commonplace anxieties by offering an escape from them. <br />
  39. 39. But when a bulk of the category deals with the same images of transcendence, hospital brands depart from reality, existing in a fantasy land of their own.<br />
  40. 40. Luckily, an emerging trendhas given us the ammunition both to address familial tensions and to differentiate Inova from the category discourse.<br />
  41. 41. Within the last decade, environmental consciousness has become a mainstream phenomenon. <br />It is no longer a “tree hugger thing” to imagine how individual actions might impact the world at large. <br />
  42. 42. Meanwhile,the green movement has zeroed in on the suburbs themselves.<br />A growing body of literature questions the sustainability of suburban living. <br />
  43. 43. This movement, dubbed New Urbanism, is a constant presence for Inova customers. <br /> Tysons Corner, a town in Fairfax County, was previously an exemplar for sprawling auto-centric living. Now it is slowly being transformed into a pedestrian-friendly mixed use community. <br />
  44. 44. With local papers regularly documenting Tysons’ transformation, it is not a stretch to imagine that the issue is on many Fairfax residents’ minds, whether they support it or not. <br />
  45. 45. Nor is it a stretch to imagine a consumer base who, inspired by the Green Movement and the Tysons Corner transformation, are thinking and talking about the organization of communities<br />
  46. 46. Therefore, Inova Children’s Hospital faces a unique opportunity:<br />A consumer base poised to think of themselves as part of a community rather than a cluster of disassociated households. <br />
  47. 47. Inova can harness this opportunity by becoming the catalyst, the spark needed to rally its customers around the possibility of a “better Fairfax.”<br />
  48. 48. Our communications strategy, then, will revolve around the idea of mobilizing for a better community<br />We will paint Fairfax as a vibrant public space and Inova as the glue that binds it together.<br />
  49. 49. This brand image works toward Inova’s objectives in threeways<br />
  50. 50. First, by serving as the catalyst that inspires community awareness, Inova creates awareness for itself. <br />It effectually brands a movement.<br />
  51. 51. Second, this strategy offers opportunities for branded social content. <br />The “community mobilizer” identity can easily translate toward social media platforms, framing the hospital as a consistent resource rather than a last resort for special cases. <br />
  52. 52. For example, Fairfax has a popular online community called Fairfax Underground<br />It needs a drastic overhaul.<br />
  53. 53. It brings plenty of Fairfax residents together virtually, but the topics are poorly organized and the comments are often crude.<br />This presents Inova with the opportunity to reshape Fairfax’s social media presence around its brand. <br />
  54. 54. Branded social content also allows Inova to face parental tensions head on.<br />Parents would have the chance to relay their concerns to their peers and to Inova’s pediatricians, all through an integrated platform.<br />
  55. 55. Third, this branding strategy allows Inova to integrate itself seamlessly into its audience’s everyday lives. <br />
  56. 56. The Tysons example shows the ways Fairfax residents already consume information on community reform.<br />If Inova can become a provider of this sort of information, it can boost its brand without depending exclusively on intrusive media. <br />
  57. 57. Finally, how will this “community mobilizer” brand strategy translate toward actual advertising? <br />
  58. 58. Since we clearly cannot change the structure of the community itself, the key is to inspire Inova’s audience to think of themselves as part of a greater whole. <br />Here are some examples of the ways other brands have done this:<br />
  59. 59.
  60. 60. Levis’ “Go Forth” campaign features a rag tag aesthetic that avoids the corny grandeur of the Children’s National Campaign despite featuring similar themes of nationalism. <br />Instead, Levis heightens the feelings of urgency and reform<br />
  61. 61. Furthermore, in a television campaign, Munroe Regional Medical Center stirs up its own feelings of community<br />
  62. 62. Click on each thumbnail to view the ad<br />
  63. 63. The television spots fall victim to the rapturous transcendence trap, but they stand out for their use of the heart as a unifying visual metaphor.<br />The ads ask their viewers to imagine a sort community cohesion, even if it does not exist in their everyday lives.<br />
  64. 64. The last and potentially most potent example is the slogan “Keep Austin Weird.”<br />It emerged in the early 2000s as a response to what Austinites described as rapid commercial growth and cultural homogenization. <br />Then it became a merchandising phenomenon<br />
  65. 65. The slogan gave residents a way to consolidate into a single phrase all the emotions they felt toward the city.<br />It reframed the way Austin residents thought and talked about the community around them.<br />
  66. 66. Ultimately, Inova’s desire to integrate itself within the Fairfax community is tricky, as its audience needs a bit of coaxing just to think of themselves as part of one. <br />
  67. 67. Yet, with the right brand message, Inova Children’s Hospital can do more than raise awareness for itself.<br /> Sometimes advertising has the power to change culture for the better, and Inova could very well be that brand.<br />
  68. 68. Thanks<br />Steve Gottschling<br />