Super Bowl Spending: Hospitals Kick Off with Ads

Crain’s Health Pulse
February 3, 2016


New York health systems are field testing a bold way to attract new patients: advertising during the Super Bowl.

Competitors New York-Presbyterian and Northwell Health both will run regional ads during Sunday's game, Crain's has learned. The systems declined to reveal the price of a regional ad, which typically sells well below the $5 million price tag of a national 30-second commercial. A spokesman for WCBS-TV, the regional station that will air the game, said it wouldn't comment on its ad rates.

New York-Presbyterian is running a Super Bowl commercial for the second straight year and will use it to highlight innovation and scientific discovery at the health system and its medical schools.

An NYP spokeswoman said the spot will air right before kickoff and "will focus on oncology, specifically immunotherapy, a promising approach to cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses."

Northwell Health is running three ads—two pregame and one during the second quarter—and it won't cost the hospital a cent.

The system first deemed the price of advertising to be too high, said Ramon Soto, Northwell's senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer.

But a board member intervened. The trustee, who wishes to remain anonymous, agreed to cover the system's costs for a 30-second spot. The other two commercials are bonus spots.

The ad will highlight the 42,000 babies delivered at Northwell hospitals each year, which was also the theme of its commercial that introduced the new system name on Jan. 1. Soto said Northwell tries to take a different approach with its ads than other hospitals that feature testimonials of patients who've recovered from disease.

"This is truly the celebration of life," Soto said. "It's a much more positive way to tap into that emotion."
The commercial is part of Northwell's rebranding effort, which Soto said last year would lead to $10 million to $12 million in marketing costs in 2016, up from its typical $2 million to $3 million budget. That spending has led to some scrutiny, he said.

"If you're going to thrive in this marketplace, you need a strong balance sheet, you need to be competitive, you need to drive the right volume, and you don't do that by being silent about who you are," Soto said.

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