Akron Children’s Hospital Tries ‘Uncommercial’ Pitch

CLEVELAND Marcus Thomas shot 70 hours of footage shot over two months for its new Akron Children’s Hospital campaign.

Seeking to break out of the category mold, an effort was made to show and mention the Akron, Ohio facility as little as possible. Instead, the focus is squarely on 14-year-old lymphoma patient Austin (pictured) or the siblings of a two-year-old leukemia patient named Cael.

The clips close by inviting viewers to visit akronchildrens.tv to watch more of the stories or tell their own.

The overall goal was to give potential parents of potential patients — who might otherwise take their sons and daughters to larger and better-known hospitals in Cleveland for treatment — knowledge of the Akron facility. Pains were taken to avoid the “numbers/rankings strategies” often employed by competitors.

The target audience is women 18-49 and the effort launches this week in Ohio media.
A rep for Cleveland-based independent Marcus Thomas described the creative approach thusly:

“The filming, unlike that of nearly all television commercials, took place with no director on set. Director of photography Andreas Von Scheele spent 30 and 40 hours alone with his subjects, mostly in their school or home, waiting for the moments when they’d forget he was there. Occasionally the director, who was in the next room, could watch live. The agency team was nowhere near, and would only see video footage every hour or so. Von Scheele did almost nothing to prompt his subjects.”

Crafting “uncommercial” commercials that nonetheless had emotional resonance and power was paramount. Austin and Cael’s siblings narrate, though brief subtitles about their conditions and treatment add context to the stories.