Physical health is of course central to one’s quality of life. While enjoying good health, it is far too easy to forget that one dwells in a body where dozens of unique systems are interacting in thousands of ways to facilitate daily life. When the function of one or more of these systems is compromised, however, one quickly realizes that without health, there isn’t much else of importance.
The most effective healthcare advertising capitalizes on this fact to educate the public about the importance of maintaining good health by living a preventive lifestyle—one that includes a healthy and varied diet, proper weight management, physical exercise, and adequate rest and hydration. Even the most rigorous preventive lifestyle does not maintain good health indefinitely, though, and effective healthcare advertising takes this into account as well. People get injured and sick, and when things like that happen, there are a few key strategies that healthcare advertisers use to educate the public about the products and services they offer.
First: stability, effectiveness, and integrity of research. Patients in a vulnerable state want to know that the medical professionals to whom they have entrusted their health are fully capable of restoring it. Thus, many healthcare advertisements focus on providing patients with reassurance regarding the integrity of the research that went into the development of particular healthcare services. This is a particularly common practice within the pharmaceutical drug industry, where emotional imagery emphasizing health goes hand-in-hand with voiced narration that offers detailed information about corresponding placebo studies and possible side effects. Patients, in addition to wanting to know that a product or service works, also typically want to know something about how it came to be. Knowing the origin of a product allows patients to more quickly establish a working relationship with its providers, a phenomenon that has been mirrored in the food industry by the emerging practice of detailed origin information on the labeling of many organic foods.
Of equal importance is a healthcare advertisement’s emotional appeal. How does it differentiate itself from other similar pharmaceutical drugs or healthcare services that provide the same benefits? What treatment options does the product or service offer? Can the patient be expected to make a full recovery, and if so, how long might that take? What possible side effects may occur during treatment or recovery? How quickly will patients be able to resume their normal routines? These are all very basic questions dealing with patient anxiety over problems with their health that they seldom understand in the way a medical professional does. Providing patients with emotional comfort during a vulnerable time is essential to maximizing their chances at recovery.
For example, we see emotional appeals and integrity of research within public announcements for the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). Under the Affordable Care Act, small business owners with more than 50 full-time employees are mandated to provide their full-time staff with some form of health insurance coverage. Obamacare’s advertisements center on providing factual information coupled with the emotional appeal of more American citizens being able to access healthcare services.