Philips Brings 'Sense and Simplicity' to China's Hospitals

2009 Festival of Media Case Study: Advertising as Service Award

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This year's Festival of Media, held in Valencia, Spain, honored effective media campaigns from around the globe. In the next few weeks, MediaWorks will take a look at some of the winners, illuminating the insights behind the campaigns and why they worked. This week's case study, from Carat and Philips, won the Consumer Benefit/Advertising as Service Award.
Philips Healthcare 'Sense and Simplicity'

When Philips looks to promote its consumer products, communicating and weaving its brand proposition of "Sense and Simplicity" into a campaign is relatively easy. But getting that message to work in a campaign for its health-care division was a bit more challenging. The company and its media agency set out last year to market Philips Healthcare in China with the goal of bringing "Sense and Simplicity" to China's complex health-care sector.

Seth Grossman, managing director-Eastern China for Carat, said the plan was to bring the "Sense and Simplicity" proposition to life for Chinese consumers within the health-care system "in a way that made the Philips brand relevant, meaningful and rewarding to consumers in Chinese hospitals."

Together with Philips, Carat formulated two specific goals that would help achieve that. The first was to figure out a way to help short-term patients, who can spend up to three hours waiting to be seen, use their waiting time better. The second was to reduce overcrowding of major hospitals by promoting community clinics.

To help reduce waiting time, the client and agency created a Philips-branded text-alert service called "Create Time." Patients who enter their phone numbers into a texting terminal inside hospital waiting rooms can track their place in line and receive a text message (with an accompanying Philips brand message) when they are about to be called, giving them time to get back to hospital. "We decided to use the most ubiquitous piece of technology available in China, the mobile phone," Mr. Grossman said. "This freed [patients] up to leave the hospital for three or four hours and get on with their lives without missing their appointment."

The system has been rolled out in 10 hospital departments in Shanghai, and each terminal is used by an average of 125 consumers per day.

To help limit overcrowding of big hospitals, Philips teamed with the Public Health Bureau to create a TV campaign that demonstrated the time-saving advantages of going to newly refurbished, less-crowded community clinics, rather than major hospitals. By working with the Public Health Bureau, Philips was able to classify the commercial as an official public-health message, securing a 65% reduction in Shanghai TV airtime costs.

Mr. Grossman said saving consumers time was clearly the most critical component of the campaign's success, but there were other factors as well, in particular the innovation of the texting terminals and not using the effort to pitch any products, while framing the brand as a service.

"Philips did not try to turn the medium into a hard sell," he said. "In fact, the branding did not refer to any products. It was about the brand as a service in a way that fostered goodwill from consumers and turned patients into brand advocates. Patients were curious and sought out the terminals, and once one person tried it, a line quickly formed, creating a buzz in the hospital waiting rooms."

According to Philips, the programs are helping patients in the city save 156 years and three months, or roughly two human lifetimes, every year.

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