Adworks Nixes Sentiment in Patient-Doctor Stories

An unemotional documentary style marks the first campaign for the Virginia HospitalCenter. Created by Adworks in Washington, D.C., three 30-second TV commercials promote the Arlington, Va., facility’s physicians and advanced medical care.

Each spot tells a true story of how a staff physician successfully treated a particular patient. Cases include a man from China with an enlarged heart, a woman who had suffered multiple miscarriages and an elderly woman diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a hardening of the heart muscle.

Directed by Jason Wulfsohn and produced at the Oil Factory in Hollywood, Calif., each ad limits its focus to the patient’s malady and the doctor’s treatment description.

According to agency creative director Mark Greenspun, the sober tone of the spots was intended.

“We decided that sentiment takes away from the credibility of the case studies,” he said, adding that the documentary approach seemed more persuasive.

“We knew we were looking for interesting medical cases and good stories from the doctors,” said Greenspun. “But knowing what to include to make it a story was the art in this. If we hadn’t sat through each doctor’s lecture, we wouldn’t have known what to choose.”

For “Enlarged Heart,” Greenspun listened as the physician’s metaphors described the condition.

“He finally told me a normal heart is the size of a softball, and that his patient’s heart was like a volleyball,” said Greenspun. “So we went with it.”

The ad series will air on metro D.C. network stations and area cable during prime time through 2002. The budget was not disclosed.

Previously known as Arlington Hospital, the name change shifts the perception of the facility from local to regional.

“Virginia Hospital Center sits in the shadow of Georgetown and George Washington Medical Centers,” said Greenspun. “It wasn’t getting the respect it deserved.”

Additional production credits go to agency art director Bill Cutter and producer Sandy Mislang and Mark Castro of Wild Child Editorial House in New York.