Last fall, we were charged with coming up with a new campaign for St.Vincent Cancer Care (essentially, oncology services on the St.Vincent Indianapolis Hospital campus). We developed a campaign around the theme “Our Fight Against Cancer.” Creatively, it was simplicity itself: documentary-style video of doctors looking directly at the camera and talking about the important cancer work being done every day at St.Vincent.

So far, the campaign has won no creative awards (and we’d never have expected it to). It has, however, won several healthcare marketing awards. And it’s especially well regarded inside St.Vincent, where we’ve heard praise not only from the physicians affiliated with St.Vincent Cancer Care, but also from doctors and administrators in other parts of the organization.

The question is, why? What’s special about this very simple campaign–a campaign that seems not much different from your average “docs on camera” approach to advertising?

Several things make Our Fight Against Cancer stand out from the pack. They include:

1. It’s personal. Our docs are not looking off camera, interview style. They engage the viewer by looking directly at the camera. In effect, we give the impression that our doctors aren’t just speaking to someone. They’re speaking to you.

2. It’s believable. There’s no chest-pounding going on here. No superlative claims. No promises–other than the promise that St.Vincent Cancer Care will do everything possible to fight cancer with you. And although there are a couple of prewritten lines in the campaign, the vast majority of the copy came right from the doctors themselves. They’re saying exactly what they believe about the work they do and the care they provide.

3. It’s emotional. Cancer is awful. Fighting cancer is tough, important work. Telling you that our world-class docs are going to stand with you and do everything in their power to help you win the fight strikes a deep emotional chord. Even when our doctors are talking about science, their compassion shines through.

Talk directly with your audience. Make it personal and emotional. Tell the truth. Don’t try to puff up or sugar-coat the story.

And guess what? People out in the world will respond positively. The Our Fight Against Cancer campaign has had a great positive impact on awareness and preference in the market. Our physicians say it’s had an impact on patient volumes, as well.

Which means that more patients in Indiana are getting help in their fight against cancer from doctors who are absolutely committed to their care. We’d say that’s a big win for everyone involved.