Sinai Health launches its first brand campaign

Who: Sinai Health Foundation, with Huge and Goh Iromoto, an award-winning Toronto-based director and cinematographer. UM Canada for media.

What: “Champions of care,” the first consumer ad campaign for Sinai Health, highlighting the power of research and care within the network.

When & Where: The campaign had its soft launch during the Toronto International Film Festival, with the videos first shown during a Sept. 14 gala celebrating front-line workers and patients. The full campaign is rolling out this week across broadcast and online, with CEO Louis de Melo saying he expects the branding efforts to run for the next 3-5 years. “If we’re serious about [building] a brand it cannot be just a one-year thing,” he says.

Why: It’s part of a broader strategic plan to create a stronger brand identity for Sinai Health, which arose out of the 2015 amalgamation of Mount Sinai Hospital, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and home care/community services provider Circle of Care.

Internal surveys revealed that while recognition of the individual healthcare facilities was high, unaided awareness of Sinai Health as a whole was not. “People don’t really know what Sinai Health is,” says de Melo. “The good news is it can only go up, but we have work to do.”

The hope is that increased brand awareness will help reach “substantive” fundraising goals—including doubling the size of its donor base, and increasing its fundraising support to $100 million a year by 2023 (it raised $65 million in the past year).

Branding, says de Melo, is tops the list of Sinai’s strategic priorities. “We’ll get to philanthropy at some point, but it’s pretty hard to attract donors if they don’t know who you are in the first place,” says de Melo. “Let’s establish a strong identify that people build an affinity with, and then once they’re engaged they’ll get inspired, and contributions will follow.”

Getting attention in a crowded space: Philanthropy has become a highly competitive space and donors have become increasingly sophisticated, which has led to a rise in healthcare marketing as institutions all attempt to differentiate themselves. “To capture their attention and expand your base, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd, and if you don’t have a presence in the marketplace, people won’t notice you,” says de Melo.

The SickKids “Vs” campaign is largely credited with transforming Canadian healthcare marketing, and de Melo says the team at Sinai Health spent time scrutinizing that marketing to determine its strategic and creative approach. “You can learn from the best,” he says. “We look at best practices everywhere, and SickKids is one of the best for sure.”

The marketing challenge for Sinai Health, says de Melo, is that it is not a single-cause institution. Instead, it boasts nine centres of excellence encompassing everything from high-risk pregnancies to knee replacement. “The challenge from a brand perspective is that you cannot go to market with nine,” he says.

How: The creative approach is specifically designed to have emotional resonance, says de Melo. The two-minute, 20-second umbrella spot, “See what care can do,” is built around a day-in-the-life type approach, showing Sinai healthcare workers engaged in the various activities that take place within the network, from providing care for a premature baby to aquatic therapy.

Another video, entitled “For the future: our researchers’ story,” focuses on the healthcare network’s research, while “Choose hope: Marianna’s story” focuses on a premature baby born at 27 weeks weighing less than two pounds. All of the spots drive to a dedicated page,

And we quote: “We want to take people on a journey to discover the real stories of care within our walls. It’s an invitation to get to know us and support the largest redevelopment in our history.” — Louis de Melo, CEO, Sinai Health Foundation.

Chris Powell