OHA reminds Ontarians that its hospitals are here for them

Who: The Ontario Hospital Association, with Cossette for strategy and creative; Asymetric for production (Kacper Larski directing); Alter Ego, Oso Audio, Studio Feather and Outsider Editorial for post production. Media by Cossette Media.

What: A new province-wide ad push, “Here to Care,” effectively a brand campaign for Ontario’s hospitals after two years of an historic health crisis that pushed the system to its breaking point, and even briefly led to hospitals being the site of protests over vaccination mandates. It is Cossette’s first work for OHA since winning the assignment through an RFP process.

When & Where: The campaign is running through July, with online ads running on YouTube and Twitter, complemented by out-of-home in key markets.

Why: While the OHA did put some Covid-related communications into market at the height of the pandemic, urging people to stay home or follow public health guidelines, this represents the organization’s first major advertising effort. The OHA says the campaign is designed to remind and reassure Ontarians that their hospitals remain “deeply committed” to caring for them and their communities.

In a recent survey of 1,000 Ontario residents commissioned by the OHA, 77% agreed that hospitals care deeply and are committed to providing the best quality of care to patients. But the OHA said that the pandemic has been difficult not just for the public, but hospitals as well.

“It’s been a long two years, and when the pandemic first started, we all saw a lot of encouragement and support for healthcare workers across the board,” said the OHA’s marketing communications and brand advisor, Kumarie Perera.

As the pandemic continue through waves and waves, that started to decrease. We felt it was time to thank our healthcare workers again, and remind people that as difficult as things might be, we are still there for them.”

Why Cossette: The agency has, of course, helped usher in a bold new approach to healthcare marketing in Canada thanks to its extensive work on SickKids Foundation’s “SickKids VS.” platform. The search encompassed several agencies, but Cossette’s healthcare work was a key determinant. “We really wanted to find [an agency] that understand the healthcare space, and what we’ve been through over the past two years,” said Perera.

How: The campaign is anchored by a 60-second spot that depicts the frenetic pace of emergency healthcare through a series of quick cuts accompanied by the sounds of sirens, a patient’s racing heartbeat, a gurney being wheeled into an operating room, etc.

Those shots are interspersed with quieter moments in which medical staff, including nurses, intake staff, orderlies and surgeons, calmly deliver a message about hospitals’ unwavering support of all their patients—regardless of their beliefs.

“It doesn’t matter where he’s from,” says one. “It doesn’t matter what he believes,” adds another. “It doesn’t matter what he reads online” says an orderly. “Or even how long this will take,” adds a surgeon. “All that matters is that he sees his family again,” concludes another.

The use of a non-medical staff, such as an orderly, was “very intentional,” said Perera. “We find that a lot of the time when we talk about healthcare and hospitals, we’re talking about doctors and nurses. But the reality is that a hospital is made up of a large number of people in multiple roles, and they can’t function unless they have [orderlies] and front desk staff to do the discharge paperwork. Doctors and nurses are obviously pivotal, but there are many other people in the hospital that play a pivotal role.”

The spot concludes with the super “Here to care,” with the “H” inside a blue square to equate it with the universally recognized symbol for hospitals.

And we quote: “Much has happened over the past two years, but one thing that will never change is the willingness of hospitals to give their all and be here to care for the people of Ontario. This campaign is an opportunity to recognize that passion and perseverance.” — Anthony Dale, president and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association


Chris Powell