Darkly Comic Ads for ZocDoc Illustrate the Utter Hell of Calling Your Doctor

Stop telling them you have rabies

ZocDoc knows how much it sucks trying to deal with doctors over the phone. Now, the online medical-care scheduling service positions itself as the cure for such headaches in a pair of humorous spots from Goodby Silverstein & Partners in New York.

In one ad, an office worker whispers her embarrassing symptoms into a handset at her desk, hoping not to be overheard by her colleagues. The other commercial presents a different woman, seeking an appointment ASAP, who might be overstating her condition ever so slightly.

"Get better better" is the tagline. The campaign also includes radio, print, out-of-home and digital elements. It's the first major ad push for the 7-year-old service, and it follows Richard Fine's arrival as marketing chief as the year began.

"We're all at the mercy of a broken healthcare system in which many of us can relate to an experience that is absurd and Kafka-esque," he tells Fast Company.

"Our campaign finds humor in that shared experience. It makes light of these unnecessarily painful parts of the healthcare system. Technology has changed every part of our lives. How about—finally—healthcare?"

The campaign reunites Fine with Goodby's Nathan Frank, who serves as creative director. In 2008, the pair co-founded OTC drug company Help Remedies, which is known for its own crazy ads. David Shane directed the ZocDoc commercials.

Shane's expert comic touch—he directed HBO Go's "Awkward Family Viewing" ads, and won an Emmy a few years back for Bud Light's "Swear Jar"—is just what the doctor ordered. Here, his approach is appealingly offbeat, but also upbeat and empowering. That's probably the perfect prescription for a healthcare platform reaching out in ads for the first time.