Fo­cus­ing on dis­tinc­tions that make a dif­fer­ence


Glance at its web­site or other pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als for SPM Mar­ket­ing & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and you’ll see images of toma­toes. In fact, the ad agency is widely known as the “The Tomato Peo­ple.” And its white pa­pers are called “red pa­pers.”

It all traces back to the firm’s pres­ence at a trade show some years ago, when it used the im­age of a splat­tered tomato to en­cap­su­late the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion: health­care mes­sag­ing with im­pact.

The La­Grange, Ill.-based firm, founded in 1983, is a large health­care-only prac­tice. And be­cause of its spe­cial­iza­tion, the agency op­er­ates un­der a phi­los­o­phy that health­care brings unique re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in its mar­ket­ing. “Our mis­sion is that peo­ple de­serve to know there are dif­fer­ences among health­care providers, and that those dif­fer­ences can save their lives,” said Patti Winegar, SPM’s man­ag­ing part­ner.

SPM’s fea­tured ad cam­paign for DanaFar­ber Can­cer Cen­ter/Brigham & Women’s, Bos­ton, chal­lenged the agency to look for in­no­va­tive ways to make an im­pact on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s po­si­tion in the mar­ket. Winegar noted that while its client en­joyed great name recog­ni­tion, it also faced for­mi­da­ble com­pe­ti­tion from other play­ers just as well known.

The ap­proach was to fo­cus on the can­cer cen­ter’s pa­tient-cen­tered brand of care. Winegar said a lot of hos­pi­tals de­liver great can­cer care in Bos­ton. The em­pha­sis had to be on how that care was de­liv­ered, which led to the “You Have Us” cam­paign. “We let the physi­cians, the pa­tients, the care­givers tell their sto­ries,” she said. “And it was all to­tally un­scripted.”

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