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By Dr. Jim Dahle, WCI Founder
We had an interesting experience here at The White Coat Investor recently. We are always looking for new ways to get the WCI message out to more doctors and other high-income professionals. We have not done a lot of paid advertising over the years, mostly because I'm a cheapskate but also because it's so hard to determine the Return On Investment (ROI). However, we recently decided to do a trial of some paid ads to be shown on display screens in hospitals.
We're trying to reach doctors and other healthcare providers, not patients, so we tried to only have our ads show up in the areas where doctors would see them rather than someplace like a waiting room. Unfortunately, most of the hospital screens are in hallways, cafeterias, and waiting rooms—not the doctor's lounge. But we did the best we could to get the message to our target audience.
Hospitals Don't Want Our Ads
Imagine our surprise when we submitted the various ads to be placed on the screens. The advertising company came back to us and told us that they could not run six of our fourteen proposed ads. The reason was not that they were vulgar or pornographic or false or anything like that. It was simply that the client hospitals did not like the messaging in the ads. Are you curious what those ads said? I bet you are. Here's an example of one of the rejected ones:
Does that ad seem particularly offensive to you? It really didn't to us. As you look at that ad, what bothers you about it? Do you think the hospitals were bothered by the mention of companies like Forbes or CNN? The lack of bias? The gender or skin color of the doctor? Nope. None of that. This is what they said:
“They are worried about referring to physician’s ‘money problems' in a spot that’s used for patients and families—who already think physicians are overpaid. May not go over well. Could you ask if they would consider changing ‘money problems' and saying something like ‘discussing financial options since 2011' or maybe ‘financial solutions.'”
They don't want to suggest that doctors could possibly have any sort of financial problems. The hospitals are worried about what their customers think. We don't actually care what THEIR customers think about our business. Patients and families are not our target market, but the taboo about talking about physician financial problems in our hospitals and society in general is stronger than you might think. If we were going to advertise to the patients, maybe we'd use a slogan like:
“Does your doctor owe more than $400,000 in student loans? Many do. How do you think that's affecting your care?”
“Your doctor got her first real paycheck at age 35. That's why it costs so much.”
“Stop suing your doctors, they're doing the best they can.”
But we're not trying to reach the patients. We're trying to help the docs so that they, in turn, can concentrate on helping the patients.
More information here:
What Hospitals Don't Want You (or Your Patients) to Know
It turns out that wasn't the only ad that the hospitals didn't want.
“Our board reviewed the copy you sent over last week and they are concerned with a few of the slogans. Attached in yellow are the ones in particular that they will not approve—can you provide a few other slogans to replace these ones? If we can keep them as non-soliciting as possible that would be great because those will have a better likelihood of getting approved . . . If/when we come across the issue of being denied by other hospitals, I will let you know and then at that point we will need to find other hospitals to move you into. So I would gather a few other locations that you’re interested in just in case we get denied for other hospitals.”
Isn't the point of an ad to SOLICIT business? Last I checked, that's the whole reason behind advertising. Here were a few other “problematic” slogans:
“Physicians, stop doing dumb stuff with your money”
“One in seven doctors get disabled during their career”
“Want to still be here at 3am when you're 55?”
The problem with the last one is that “hospitals don't like us telling their employees to go elsewhere.” Here were yet some more rejections (click on the image to enlarge).
Maybe I'm taking it a little personally since I came up with a lot of the ad copy for this campaign, but it sure feels to me like there is some opposition out there to the idea of doctors becoming financially literate, much less secure. Heaven forbid doctors or their patients find out that doctors can get disabled too.
More information here:
New Advertising Slogans for WCI
In case you're interested, here is the rest of the campaign.
Who knew that an advertising campaign designed to boost physician financial literacy would be so controversial? It turns out that there are more industries than the financial services industry that want to keep you down.
What do you think? Do you think it's an issue that patients find out that many doctors struggle with financial problems? Why do you think hospitals would reject these ads? What other advertising slogans do you think WCI should use? Comment below!