Steward ads promote its ‘new health care’
Message emphasizes Steward brand over individual hospitals
Steward Health Care is using the Olympics to hone its image. The Boston-based chain of 10 community hospitals, many of which were on the verge of going under when Steward acquired them, is running a series of ads on WHDH-TV (Channel 7) during Olympics coverage that cast the company as a delivery system for a new type of world-class health care.
The powerful ads, shot on location at Steward hospitals in Norwood, Quincy, and Brockton and featuring employees from all of the chain’s 10 facilities, are attracting attention because of their message and the significant financial outlay they represent. Hospitals often advertise, but rarely on television, and rarely during a high-profile event such as the Olympics. When hospitals do run ads, the ads typically promote the hospital. But the initial Steward ads don’t even mention the chain’s hospitals; instead, they attempt to build a brand around the Steward name.
Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private equity firm, owns Steward, which operates hospitals in Fall River, Methuen, Brighton, Norwood, Dorchester, Brockton, Ayer, Haverhill, Taunton, and Quincy. The company’s foray into health care is being watched closely in Massachusetts. Many health care officials are skeptical that Cerberus/Steward can turn the struggling hospitals around, but Steward officials say they plan to expand their business model to other states. A Steward spokesman declined to discuss the ads, referring a reporter to the company’s press release.
The ads are a plug for community hospitals. “If small communities and neighborhoods everywhere can produce world class athletes, then why can’t small communities and neighborhoods produce world class health care?” one of the initial ads asks. The question is answered by a Steward employee who says she believes “world class health care is here.” Another of the initial ads features individual doctors and technicians pledging to be stewards of “the new health care,” which is the tagline for all of the Steward ads.
What the “new health care” means is never fully explained in the ads, although company officials have said they are trying to convince people in the communities surrounding the Steward hospitals to choose those hospitals for their care rather than the more expensive teaching hospitals in Boston. Steward says its hospitals provide equivalent care at far less cost.
Shorter ads that are just now beginning to appear during Olympics coverage trumpet technology and technicians at specific Steward hospitals. Jim Trousdale , who oversees the electronic records system at Norwood Hospital, is featured in one ad. A CT technician appears in another.According to Steward, the ads were developed by the Boathouse Group Inc. of Waltham and directed by Lisa Rubisch, who has shot ads for such companies as Nike, Fidelity, Coors, and Honda. In the irony department, Boathouse is run by John Connors, the son of Jack Connors, who founded the advertising firm Hill Holliday and recently stepped down as the chairman of Partners HealthCare, the corporate parent of two of the biggest teaching hospitals in Boston — Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Homepage image by Steward Health Care.