BOHAN’s ‘brand villages’ work to create captivating stories
It takes a village to tell a compelling story. That’s the organizing principle for Nashville-based BOHAN Advertising, where collaboration is more than an in-house exercise. It has moved from designating a creative team for each client to building interdisciplinary “brand villages” that include representation from all internal and external stakeholders, with a special emphasis on recruiting diverse representation from the clients.
For the scope and innovative nature of its work, BOHAN was chosen as Agency of the Year in the 2015 Healthcare Marketing IMPACT Awards. The firm has attracted a number of healthcare customers including hospitals, health systems and insurers, which now represent about 30% of all its billings.
“We have been fortunate to partner with some clients that truly want to tell a story and be less clinical in their advertising,” said Shari Day, the agency’s president.
The overarching message for client St. Thomas Health, a prominent Nashville-based system, was “Nothing Shall Be Impossible,” based on a verse from the Gospel of Luke. The ads focus on the spectrum of service lines the system offers and their success stories, from cancer treatment to weight-loss management to neonatal care. “It’s real people, real stories, about what they went through and how the system was there to support them,” Day said. “The key goal is that we never use exploitation, that we’re never selfserving.”
David Bohan, the agency’s founder and chairman, said this type of marketing has proved highly effective. “The market dynamics in healthcare today involve enormous cost pressures and regulatory turmoil. It’s caused everyone to be a little too cautious.” He said the ability to get from a rational message—often focused on things such as the latest medical technology—to an emotional one “resonates with the community.”
Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Fla., another client in an increasingly competitive market, also embraces the storytelling approach in its messaging, whether touting the calming presence of a pet-therapy dog in a chemotherapy infusion session to explaining how saddling up for an equestrian competition made all the difference for a young cystic fibrosis patient.
Just as important as sharing a compelling story, Bohan said, is an agency’s skill in deciding which communications platforms to use and when. Given the explosion in social media, other digital tools and on-demand services, “we believe in the ability of agility … to be able to track information quickly through analytics to determine if what we’re doing is effective.” And if not, to be nimble enough to switch gears immediately.
While healthcare-related clients account for nearly a third of the agency’s total billings, Bohan notes the firm has deep roots in retail and tourism. Its first client—and one still in the roost—is Pigeon Forge, Tenn., a year-round family destination that’s the hometown of Dolly Parton and the Dollywood theme park. And he cites a common thread in the industries.
“The perspective that we bring to our healthcare clients is the need for understanding hospitality. The healthcare business so many times gets wrapped up in not understanding the need for basic human kindness. That goes a long way to making a patient and their family more comfortable.”
BOHAN employs its storytelling technique in ads for St. Thomas Health, top right, and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, at right.