TV ad by Florida Hos­pi­tal fea­tures 18 cancer sur­vivors

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Naseem S. Miller

When the Florida Hos­pi­tal mar­ket­ing team sat down with 22squared — the advertising firm that makes those tear-jerker Publix hol­i­day com­mer­cials — the con­ver­sa­tion some­how led to bells.

Florida Hos­pi­tal and its par­ent com­pany, Ad­ven­tist Health Sys­tem, are chang­ing their name to Ad­ven­tHealth and are at the mid­dle of a ma­jor re­brand­ing cam­paign. The health sys­tem has al­ready rolled out com­mer­cials about the name change but wanted to do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent dur­ing the hol­i­days.

It’s an odd time for a hos­pi­tal sys­tem to launch a ma­jor com­mer­cial. It’s a busy sea­son for shop­ping ads, and health-care or­ga­ni­za­tions usu­ally take a back seat, said Sharon Line Clary, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing at Florida Hos­pi­tal.

“But we de­cided to take a dif­fer­ent stance. We wanted to cel­e­brate life,” she said.

The team’s con­ver­sa­tion with their new advertising partner even­tu­ally led to bells dur­ing the hol­i­days, “and we said bells mean some­thing dif­fer­ent in health care. They sig­nal the end of cancer treat­ment,” said Clary.

And it caught on from there.

The fi­nal prod­uct is a com­mer­cial that fea­tures sur­vivors ring­ing the bell at the hos­pi­tal at the end of their cancer treat­ment and later, ring­ing hand­bells as part of a choir.

Eigh­teen cancer sur­vivors from Ad­ven­tist Health Sys­tem hospi­tals across the na­tion were brought to­gether in Oc­to­ber. Un­der the di­rec­tion of a con­duc­tor, they learned to read mu­sic, play the bells and per­form the song in four days.

“We'd go verse by verse and built it up from there,” said Grayson Zre­lak of Or­lando, who at 13 was one of the youngest mem­bers of the choir. “In the next cou­ple of days, we learned the whole song. And then we started play­ing all to­gether. If we strug­gled, we did it again.”

Grayson was 10 years old when he was di­ag­nosed with Hodgkin’s lym­phoma. He went into re­mis­sion, but two years later, his cancer came back. He had surgery and a stem cell trans­plant.

“And af­ter that, I went through 22 rounds of ra­di­a­tion. And to­day, I’m in re­mis­sion,” he said.

The com­mer­cial doesn’t show the Ad­ven­tHealth brand un­til the end, nor does it men­tion the brand tran­si­tion from Florida Hos­pi­tal.

“It was in­ten­tional to have the brand at the end and fo­cus on the sur­vivors . ... This is a hol­i­day spe­cial and [the brand­ing] is more sub­tle,” said Clary.

The film­ing was done at Dr. Phillips Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts in Oc­to­ber and last week the sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies were brought to­gether again in Or­lando to see the fi­nal prod­uct.

“It's re­ally awe­some. Very in­spi­ra­tional . ... It was emo­tional and you could see all of us ring­ing the bell,” Grayson said.

“I hope the [com­mer­cial] in­spires oth­ers and shows that we sur­vived and gives a huge mes­sage all over the world that we’re not the only ones. Ev­ery­one has a fam­ily mem­ber who’s been af­fected by cancer and it needs to end,” said Grayson, who wants to be a speaker when he grows up to in­spire oth­ers.

Silent Night by The Ad­ven­tHealth Sur­vivor Bell Choir is avail­able for 99 cents on iTunes, Google Play and Ama­zon. All pro­ceeds go to ben­e­fit cancer ef­forts at A.dven­tHealth, ac­cord­ing to the health sys­tem.


As part of its re­brand­ing cam­paign, Florida Hos­pi­tal rolled out a com­mer­cial this week, fea­tur­ing 18 cancer sur­vivors who were brought to­gether in Or­lando to form a bell choir. They learned over four days to play a Chris­mas song.

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