||Checking Up On New Activity in the Hospital Category
Rightsholders Should Offer Hospitals Health-and-Wellness-Themed Programming in Light of Health Care Reform
Increased competition and U.S. health care reform are driving new sponsorship activity on behalf of hospitals and other medical facilities.
Hospitals across the U.S. have signed a substantial number of new deals over the past year with pro sports teams, local festivals and a wide variety of other property types.
Recent deals include Inova Health System's jersey sponsorship with the WNBA Washington Mystics—announced earlier this month; Hennepin County Medical Center and the NHL Minnesota Wild; and The University of Kansas Hospital and the MLB Kansas City Royals.
In addition, University Hospitals has become the second medical center sponsor of the MLB Cleveland Indians, Baptist Health South Florida has partnered with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival presented by BlueCross Blue Shield, and the Mayo Clinic last year announced a first-time sponsorship of the MLB Minnesota Twins.
Key Trend: More Health And Wellness Messaging
Although hospitals have long used sponsorship to promote medical specialties and services, changes in health care have driven many to place more emphasis on overall health and wellness messaging.
"It's hard to say how health care reform might impact sponsorship, but one part of the legislation discusses the importance of prevention," said Cynthia Galbincea, executive director of marketing communications with Cleveland Clinic. "We are serious about using sponsorship to shine the light on wellness."
The hospital is a sponsor of the Indians, NBA Cleveland Cavaliers and NFL Cleveland Browns, and previously activated those deals with educational programming around specific diseases, Galbincea said.
This year, Cleveland Clinic is leveraging its relationships with the teams through a Let's Move It! platform designed to educate consumers about the importance of physical activity, proper nutrition and not smoking.
The hospital promotes Let's Move It! through a mix of in-stadium promotions and digital and traditional media inventory.
In-venue programs include a Let's Move It! Movement that encourages fans to stand up and move their bodies. This summer, Cleveland Clinic will leverage the Indians with Let's Move It! Mondays, during which fans can walk or jog on the warning track of Progressive Field from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on select non-gameday Mondays.
Off-site activation includes a dedicated Web site -- LetsMoveIt.org -- that provides healthy lifestyle tips and consumer promotions offering the chance to win tickets to visitors who submit health-related questions via video or email. Cleveland Clinic also is running radio and TV spots that feature doctors answering health-related questions.
The medical center also is activating the program with a smart phone app.
Below, IEG SR offers tips to rightsholders on selling the hospital category.
Highlight community involvement. Although hospitals have long used sponsorship as a community relations play, ongoing concerns over escalating health care costs have forced many medical centers to downplay marketing-driven programs in favor of community tie-ins.
For example, The University of Kansas Hospital is positioning its partnership with the Royals as a show of support for a local institution.
"We are all about building partnerships in the community and making sure players have access to integrated health care services," said Julie Amor, the hospital's vice president of marketing.
Hospitals also increasingly are using sponsorship to engage their employees. For example, Cleveland Clinic offers employees reduced-price tickets to Browns, Cavaliers and Indians games.
Weigh the pros and cons of in-kind deals. Nearly every hospital looks for opportunities to provide medical services and staff to sports teams and other sponsored events.
When going down this road, properties must make sure the hospital is reputable and can provide best-in-class services.
"You want to make sure you are not providing medical services based on the highest bidder for a marketing contract," said Wes Engram, the Royals' senior director of corporate partnerships. "If someone is injured, you don't want them going to a crummy hospital."
That is the reason the team has two contracts with The University of Kansas Hospital. One calls for the hospital to provide medical services to the team, while the other covers marketing benefits.
"If we can keep players healthy, that's a win-win," Amor said. "From there, it becomes natural to become the team's official healthcare provider."
The hospital is activating the five-year tie by hosting three heath awareness events each year at Kauffman Stadium. It also is running TV ads featuring Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
The University of Kansas Hospital also provides medical staff and services to other sponsored properties, including Kansas Motor Speedway and the Sprint Center, the latter of which the hospital serves as a founding sponsor.
Go slowly on category exclusivity. Due in part to the lingering effects of the economy and tightened marketing budgets, a growing number of hospitals are moving away from exclusive deals.
For example, Cleveland Clinic relinquished its exclusive status with the Indians this year, allowing the team to add a sponsorship with University Hospitals.
The total cash value of the two hospital deals is slightly higher than the team’s former deal with Cleveland Clinic, said Ted Baugh, the Indians' director of corporate partnerships. UH is using the partnership as a branding play for its new cancer center, he noted.
Similarly, Miami's Mercy Hospital scaled back its sponsorship of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, allowing the property to sign a separate deal with Baptist Health for next year's event.
The festival targeted Baptist Health after noticing the hospital had opened an urgent care facility.
"Mercy had to scale back its sponsorship, so we couldn't give them exclusivity for all of the services," said Maria Korge, president of Korge & Co., a sponsorship sales agency that reps the art festival. "We let them have the hospital category, but opened up urgent care."
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 04/18/11)
How You Can Make Money:
If your station has a marketing affiliation with any pro sports teams or even local amateur teams, you have to invite them to participate with any of your station campaigns that reflect that affiliation -- even if the hospital/medical center does not have a direct partnership with the team. Of course, having them provide the on-site "first aid" element at any of your local events and/or festivals is a natural sponsorship opportunity. Remember, not only does the hospital or medical center have Community Relations, Marketing and other key budgets for getting out their overall health and wellness messaging, but each department will also have budgets with which to market their services. And, if you use your RAB Promotional Calendar, you'll find that there's something going on nearly every month of the year that will be a natural fit to create customized programs and access those budgets.
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