Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How about an ad about prevention instead?

I am no doubt over-reacting, but see what you think.  I have been hearing the following advertisement on our local public radio station:

Girls are 5-8 times more likely to suffer an ACL tear playing sports. Children's Sports Medicine experts will get your daughter off the sidelines and back in the game. Experience the pediatric difference at Children's Hospital.org/acl.

I have a deep and abiding affection for Children's Hospital, but this ad struck me as wrong-headed.  I know they mean that they will take good care of your daughter -- and indeed they will -- but this felt like an ad that was playing to the prejudices of those overly ambitious parents I often see on the sidelines of suburban soccer games.  You know, the ones who think their daughters are above average and will someday qualify for athletic scholarships if they just push them enough.

The ad made me feel like the job of the hospital was equivalent to that of the medics in the military (or trainers in the National Football League!):  "Patch up that soldier as soon as possible to send him back to the front." There was no expression of empathy towards the child.

There was clearly no sense, either, of a program to avoid the injuries in the first place.  That point, in particular, is a shame, because Children's does recognize the importance of prevention, as you can see in this blog post from the hospital.  Note this message on the blog, though:

Only 1-2 percent of soccer programs in the United States use these injury prevention programs. What can be done to encourage more programs to participate?

It’s largely a question of getting the word out there. Many people haven’t heard of an ACL injury until they have one. . . . Getting the message out that these programs are available and can be performed often with little or no special equipment could help a great deal. Several local physical therapy groups that specialize in adolescent athletes also offer teaching of these injury prevention programs for teams and individual athletes.

I understand the commercial pressures on hospitals and the desire of marketing departments to advertise revenue-producing services.  But why not use this portion of the advertising budget to help "get the word out there" about injury prevention?  What if the ad were something like this?

Girls are 5-8 times more likely to suffer an ACL tear playing sports. Children's Sports Medicine has ideas about injury prevention that will keep your daughter in the game and off the sidelines. Experience the pediatric difference at Children's Hospital.org/acl.

Listeners would still be reminded of the hospital's expertise, but at least we would get a message that I believe reflects the values of the institution, that the folks at the hospital would prefer not to have treat children for this kind of injury.


Sarah said...

I absolutely agree that the marketing campaign would have been better served advocating for prevention, however I suspect the revenue maximization is more appealing from a business perspective.

However, as a female soccer player who has had ACL reconstruction twice, I was thrilled to read the prevention study and downloaded it for future use. I have often worried whether my unborn daughters would have to experience the same injuries that I had and others in my family. If I lived in Boston, this information would have definitely swayed me to obtain care if needed from this institution. Advocating prevention does instill a certain genuine quality to expert care.

76 Degrees in San Diego said...

It's the "Lake Wobegon effect"!