The health care marketplace in Iowa and University of Iowa Healthcare’s (U.I. Health Care) position in it are changing.  U.I. Health Care was losing the singular leadership position in critical care (tertiary/quaternary).  Its two major competitors-- Mayo and Iowa Methodist--  remained strong and were gaining in quality perception.  In addition, U.I. Health Care was not chosen for routine hospital care because of preference and operational barriers to consumers.
While patient experiences revealed strikingly high satisfaction ratings, potential patients were not hearing these stories and U.I. Health Care had not outwardly advertised their full range of services.  Its long silence allowed misperceptions to flourish and preferences to be formed that over time would be even more difficult to overcome.
Porter Novelli developed a statewide advertising and awareness campaign that was designed to reposition U.I. Health Care within the marketplace. Initial research was conducted via focus groups to determine consumer perception of U.I. Health Care and what messages resonated positively with both local and statewide customers.
The key positioning that resonated from this research was that U.I. Health Care’s expertise in critical care means a level of medical expertise and excellence that Iowans want/deserve for all levels of health care. 
These were the advertising objectives that guided the campaign:

  • Expand awareness and positive perceptions of U.I. Health Care
  • Broaden image so consumers are more likely to consider and eventually prefer U.I. Health Care for routine hospital care
  • Add warmth and approachability to U.I. Health Care’s image to support direct marketing of primary care services in target markets
The campaign was launched in 1999 and ran throughout 1999 and 2000 in spot markets throughout the state of Iowa.  The multi-media advertising buy included spot television, radio and newspaper.  It also included a highly publicized roll-out among the employees, physicians and the Iowa media. 
The positive initial response was followed up in May 2000 by research measuring the effect of the advertising campaign after one year.  It shows significant gains in unaided awareness of both the hospital and its advertising messages.
U.I. Health Care continued to be the only hospital with significant awareness as an academic medical center within the interviewing area and its position actually strengthened over the advertising period. 
Unaided awareness was up from 73 to 77% and first mention of UIHC as an academic medical center was up from 65% to 71%.
Awareness of UIHC advertising was up from 36% to 50%.
Name recognition is up significantly -- 28% initially and one year later 42%.