Memorial Sloan Kettering's New Ads Pitch a Message of Hope

  • September 02, 2014
  • Latest Work
  • AdWeek

First campaign from new lead agency Pereira O'Dell.

Memorial Sloan Kettering abandons some of the staples of hospital advertising in a new campaign from Pereira O’Dell that breaks today. Gone are somber testimonials from patients, replaced by words and bright colors that aim to address the fears surrounding cancer while highlighting advancements in care and research. The tagline for the effort, which includes TV, print, online, outdoor and radio ads, is “More science. Less fear.” Words and phrases in a 60-second TV ad dissolve and move across the screen via animation from Elastic. String-driven music meanwhile, starts quietly before getting louder and brighter by the end.

Headlines drive the outdoor and print ads, which feature white type on blue, orange and green backgrounds. “There Will Never Be One Cure for Cancer. There Will be Millions,”  proclaims one ad, while another asserts, “Our Goal is to Save More Than Your Life.” Each headline leads to body copy that describes new ways to treat cancer. 

Memorial Sloan Kettering is synonymous with cancer care, the sole focus of the 130-year-old hospital. However, MSK competes with other institutions that offer cancer treatment, including New York Presbyterian Hospital. The campaign—the first from new lead agency Pereira & O'Dell—seeks to not only reaffirm MSK's preeminence in cancer treatment but also reinforce the message in a different way. 

"The world has ... become a noisier place. There are many organizations—some quite good ones—advertising and communicating about their cancer programs," explained Avice Meehan, chief communications officer at MSK in New York. "As we've looked at this extremely noisy landscape, we really thought long and hard about how do we convey what's distinctive about Memorial Sloan Kettering." 

Cory Berger, Pereira O'Dell's New York managing director, added that they sought to "create a campaign that looked different than any other campaign had been done in this space. And part of that was to communicate a certain level of optimism, a certain level of ongoing progress that's happening every day." 

The new campaign targets people with cancer and relatives who help them manage their medical care. As such, that could mean anyone from a 60-year-old man with cancer to his twentysomething son. That’s a broad age range and explains why MSK is using a mix of traditional and online media in its new campaign. 

MSK spent more than $5.5 million in media in 2013 and the hospital plans to spend more on media this year, though Meehan declined to quantify the increase. Media Storm is MSK's media agency.

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