Ad­ver­tis­ing di­ver­sity

Health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions are in­clud­ing more LGBT im­agery in mar­ket­ing

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Adam Ruben­fire

It used to be rare to see black ac­tors in Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion ads. “You didn’t think black peo­ple watched tele­vi­sion be­cause they didn’t ap­pear in com­mer­cials,” said Bob Witeck, a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant. “It’s as if we didn’t know con­sumers came in dif­fer­ent col­ors, let alone sex­ual ori­en­ta­tions.”

The in­clu­sion of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der nar­ra­tives is the next fron­tier for mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tives in health­care and other in­dus­tries, said Witeck, who ad­vises busi­nesses on mar­ket­ing to LGBT com­mu­ni­ties.

“The re­al­ity that any mar­keter would tell you is that peo­ple re­spond to images and por­tray­als that look like them,” said Erica Neufeld, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor at Bos­ton

Med­i­cal Cen­ter, which re­cently fea­tured a gay cou­ple in an ad cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to seek pri­mary care.

Aetna, Kaiser Per­ma­nente and Bos­ton Med­i­cal are health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions that have in­cluded LGBT themes in their mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing. But the health­care industry over­all isn’t em­brac­ing LGBT nar­ra­tives in mar­ket­ing as much as some con­sumer prod­ucts com­pa­nies and re­tail­ers, said Stephen Ma­cias, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of the na­tional LGBT prac­tice for MWW, an East Ruther­ford, N.J.-based pub­lic re­la­tions firm.

“When we work with (non­health­care) clients in our LGBT prac­tice, much of what’s be­ing laid out now is in­clu­sive ad­ver­tis­ing that is go­ing to be a game changer in 2016,” Ma­cias said. “We don’t see the same fo­cus out of the health­care industry.”

That may be be­cause health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions gen­er­ally pro­duce a small num­ber of ads each year, and don’t have the mar­ket­ing resources to tar­get par­tic­u­lar mar­ket niches. Some health sys­tems par­tic­i­pate in gay pride pa­rades and place ads in LGBT pub­li­ca­tions and busi­ness di­rec­to­ries, though they’re not nec­es­sar­ily in­clud­ing ex­plic­itly LGBT peo­ple in ads to the gen­eral mar­ket.

But ex­perts say health­care mar­keters need to pay more at­ten­tion to the LGBT mar­ket, which has sig­nif­i­cant pur­chas­ing power. They say there are cost-ef­fec­tive ways to reach out to that mar­ket, in­clud­ing the use of mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als that in­clude LGBT peo­ple along with other di­verse groups.

Con­nect­ing with LGBT com­mu­ni­ties is im­por­tant for gain­ing the busi­ness of their mem­bers, but it’s also im­por­tant for health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions that want to reach mil­len­ni­als in gen­eral, Witeck said. A 2014 sur­vey by ad­ver­tis­ing firm J. Wal­ter Thomp­son World­wide found that 80% of Amer­i­cans be­lieve that show­ing LGBT peo­ple in ads “sim­ply re­flects the re­al­ity of so­ci­ety to­day.” And 72% said ad­ver­tis­ers that em­brace LGBT com­mu­ni­ties are “brave.”

Mil­len­ni­als “get that the world they live in looks a cer­tain way, and if they don’t get that au­then­tic­ity (from an ad­ver­tiser), they’re not buy­ing what we’re sell­ing,” Witeck said.

He ac­knowl­edged that LGBT-in­clu­sive ad­ver­tis­ing has the po­ten­tial to alien­ate some seg­ments of the pub­lic based on reli­gious or po­lit­i­cal views. But many ad­ver­tis­ers say peo­ple with anti-LGBT views rep­re­sent a shrink­ing por­tion of the to­tal mar­ket. “They no longer view back­lash with alarm,” Witeck said. “They view it as an out­lier.”

Mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing with an eye for LGBT com­mu­ni­ties could pay off for health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions, given that LGBT in­di­vid­u­als in the U.S. were re­spon­si­ble for over $880 bil­lion in spend­ing in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Witeck’s con­sult­ing firm.

In terms of health in­sur­ance, there may be 16 mil­lion to 20 mil­lion LGBT health plan mem­bers pay­ing $89 bil­lion to $110 bil­lion in pre­mi­ums an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to an es­ti­mate by Justin Nel­son, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Gay and Les­bian Cham­ber of Com­merce. Par­tic­u­larly for in­sur­ers, “it’s a must” to be mar­ket­ing in this space and team­ing up with LGBT or­ga­ni­za­tions, Nel­son said.

Some LGBT ad­vo­cates and ex­perts iden­ti­fied Aetna as a leader in reach­ing out to LGBT cus­tomers. A few years ago, Aetna de­ter­mined that it needed to ex­pand its out­reach to LGBT cus­tomers, whose pur­chas­ing power was in­creas­ing, said Car­rah Kalat, mar­ket­ing vice pres­i­dent for Aetna’s com­mer­cial and spe­cialty busi­nesses, in­clud­ing its ex­change and em­ployer-spon­sored plans.

Aetna, which like other in­sur­ers rec­og­nizes the in­creas­ingly re­tail-based na­ture of the in­sur­ance busi­ness, has run a num­ber of print ads in LGBT pub­li­ca­tions pro­mot­ing LGBT-friendly health plans with pic­tures of gay, les­bian and trans­gen­der cou­ples and fam­i­lies.

It also re­leased “First Love,” a video of in­ter­views with a man and woman about love. The video grad­u­ally re­veals that the two peo­ple are talk­ing about their same-sex part­ners, not each other.

The in­surer also has made an ef­fort to be trans­par­ent about its clin­i­cal and cov­er­age poli­cies re­gard­ing LGBTre­lated pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing gen­der reassignment surgery.

Out­side of health­care, sev­eral well-known com­pa­nies in re­tail, food and travel have taken the lead in us­ing LGBT nar­ra­tives in their ads and so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing.

One re­cent ex­am­ple is Camp­bell Soup Co.’s re­cent “Made for Real, Real Life” TV ad cam­paign, which fea­tures two dads feed­ing their son. There’s also Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional’s #LoveTrav­els cam­paign fea­tur­ing LGBT cou­ples and fam­i­lies. In ad­di­tion, there are print and bill­board ads fea­tur­ing gay cou­ples by MillerCoors, Tar­get Corp., Gap and J.C. Pen­ney Co.

The lack of fo­cus on LGBT com­mu­ni­ties in health­care mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing doesn’t mean health­care ex­ec­u­tives aren’t in­ter­ested in be­ing more in­clu­sive, said Don

Mil­len­ni­als “get that the world they live in looks a cer­tain way and if they don’t get that au­then­tic­ity (from an ad­ver­tiser), they’re not buy­ing what we’re sell­ing.”

BOB WITECK

Mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant

Stanziano, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and communications for San Diego-based Scripps Health. Rather, it’s that most health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions, par­tic­u­larly hos­pi­tals, spend rel­a­tively lit­tle on di­rect-to-con­sumer mar­ket­ing and have to aim wide.

“Some of the ex­am­ples you see with Coors or Or­b­itz are great,” Stanziano said. “But when your bud­get is lim­ited, you try to meet the broad­est pos­si­ble au­di­ence with the dol­lars you have. When you have those niche mar­kets, you do it in a tar­geted way.”

On av­er­age, hos­pi­tals’ mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion bud­gets rep­re­sent just over half a per­cent of their net pa­tient rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to a bench­mark­ing study by the So­ci­ety for Health­care Strat­egy & Mar­ket­ing De­vel­op­ment. Mar­ket­ing bud­gets for stand-alone hos­pi­tals av­er­age about $1.7 mil­lion, health sys­tems bud­get an av­er­age of $5.1 mil­lion, and aca­demic med­i­cal cen­ters have an av­er­age mar­ket­ing bud­get of about $6.9 mil­lion.

Ad­ver­tis­ing and other me­dia com­prises 56% of hospi­tal mar­ket­ing bud­gets, with stand-alone hos­pi­tals bud­get­ing an av­er­age of $1.2 mil­lion, health sys­tems $2.8 mil­lion and aca­demic med­i­cal cen­ters $4.1 mil­lion.

Smart mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tives, Stanziano said, im­ple­ment a tar­geted strat­egy by en­sur­ing that a num­ber of eth­nic­i­ties and races are rep­re­sented in ads. They leave some nar­ra­tive el­e­ments am­bigu­ous, such as sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or the na­ture of a re­la­tion­ship. Some ad­ver­tis­ers have fea­tured two men or two women who could po­ten­tially be a cou­ple. They leave it to the viewer to de­cide their re­la­tion­ship, which is called the “gay-vague” ap­proach.

But Richard Wa­ters, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of San Fran­cisco, said most ad­ver­tis­ing more re­cently has shifted to a more ex­plicit por­trayal of gay peo­ple. The goal is to sig­nal the ad­ver­tiser’s clear sup­port for LGBT com­mu­ni­ties.

Health­care is more per­sonal than con­sumer prod­ucts and spe­cial­ized health­care ser­vices can meet the spe­cific needs of LGBT peo­ple. Wa­ters said in­sur­ers and providers want to make sure the con­sumer knows the peo­ple in an ad “are not two broth­ers, not two room­mates, but in fact they are a cou­ple.” It’s also dif­fi­cult to use the gay-vague strat­egy when mar­ket­ing to fam­i­lies, a ma­jor au­di­ence in health­care mar­ket­ing, be­cause au­di­ences gen­er­ally will in­ter­pret two men or two women with a child as a fam­ily unit, Wa­ters said.

In health­care, the most vis­i­ble ex­am­ples of LGBT-in­clu­sive ads haven’t been tar­geted specif­i­cally at LGBT con­sumers. In­stead, such ads fea­ture gay and les­bian cou­ples as part of a di­verse group of peo­ple.

Kaiser Per­ma­nente’s re­cent TV spot as part of its 12-year “Thrive” cam­paign, ti­tled “Grow Old With Me,” por­trays ma­jor mo­ments in the lives of in­di­vid­u­als, cou­ples and fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing gay new­ly­weds. An ear­lier Kaiser ad en­cour­ag­ing pa­tients to get reg­u­lar mam­mo­grams showed pho­tos of a di­verse fam­ily, in­clud­ing in­ter­ra­cial cou­ples and a same-sex cou­ple with their baby.

“Our goal has been to be as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble in our ex­pres­sion be­cause we are just as in­clu­sive in the way we op­er­ate,” said Chris­tine Paige, Kaiser’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and dig­i­tal ser­vices.

Kaiser’s strat­egy of in­clu­sive mar­ket­ing can be a cost­ef­fec­tive way to ap­peal to di­verse con­sumers in terms of race, eth­nic­ity and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, said LGBT mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Jenn Grace. “You get ev­ery­one in one ad that shows you’re in­clu­sive of all,” she said.

To boost Oba­macare en­roll­ment, the Illi­nois in­sur­ance ex­change, GetCovered Illi­nois, ran a TV ad in Jan­uary fea­tur­ing a mar­ried gay cou­ple from Chicago who signed up for in­sur­ance on the ex­change. It was part of a se­ries of ads called “Peo­ple Like Me.”

Smaller or­ga­ni­za­tions are also reach­ing out to LGBT au­di­ences. Bos­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter fea­tured a gay cou­ple in its re­cent pri­mary-care cam­paign ad, “Stronger To­gether,” which ap­peared on the front page of the Bos­ton Globe’s Metro sec­tion and in­side the Bos­ton Pride Guide. The cam­paign fea­tured sev­eral ex­am­ples of friends, co-work­ers and loved ones who sup­port one an­other and re­mind each other to see a pri­mary-care physi­cian.

Neufeld, Bos­ton Med­i­cal’s mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, said the ad came about be­cause “we re­ally looked at what we know about peo­ple that come to BMC and how we en­sure they are rep­re­sented in our ads.”

Ma­cias said the U.S. Supreme Court’s re­cent de­ci­sion in fa­vor of same-sex mar­riage rights will have long-term, prac­ti­cal ef­fects on how Amer­i­cans live and how busi­nesses op­er­ate, and al­ready is prod­ding com­pa­nies to be more in­clu­sive. He expects the health­care industry to catch up to other in­dus­tries in mar­ket­ing to LGBT com­mu­ni­ties.

“The health­care industry is lag­ging be­hind be­cause there has been a lack of de­mand (for) in­clu­sive im­agery from the gen­eral mar­ket­place,” he said. Hos­pi­tals “need to start re­flect­ing back who their pa­tients look like.”

Our goal has been to be as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble in our ex­pres­sion be­cause we are just as in­clu­sive in the way we op­er­ate.”

CHRIS­TINE PAIGE Se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and dig­i­tal ser­vices, Kaiser Per­ma­nente

Kaiser Per­ma­nente’s “Thrive” cam­paign in­cludes this print ad that shows a gay cou­ple with their baby among mul­ti­ple, di­verse gen­er­a­tions of their fam­ily. The cam­paign en­cour­ages women to get mam­mo­grams.

Bos­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter’s cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing pri­mary care in­cluded a gay cou­ple in a print ad.

A Kaiser TV spot in its “Thrive” cam­paign por­trays ma­jor mo­ments in in­di­vid­u­als’ lives, in­clud­ing gay new­ly­weds.

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