The Business of Healthcare

Super Bowl Ads and Medical Group Leaders

February 1, 2015

I just read that a 30 second spot during this year’s Super Bowl sold for around $4.5 million.

Super Bowl commercials garner all sorts of buzz for being “creative,” but creativity isn’t selling. If you thought it was, just ask RadioShack how it turned out for them: Last year their Super Bowl commercial was feted as extremely creative. This year, according to the Wall Street Journal, they are just or a day or so away from filing bankruptcy.

The problem is confusion of purpose and that’s where this lesson applies to you and to other medical group leaders.

The purpose of business is to gain customers, not to be the most “creative” simply for creativity’s sake. In other words, having ad agencies or the folks who sell ads (television networks, newspapers, magazines, and radio stations) tell you that your advertisement is the most wonderfully creative thing they’ve ever seen is not the same as causing Ms. Selma Smith of South San Francisco to buy a six pack of Bud.

According to, Anheuser-Busch’s 2014 Super Bowl ad, “Puppy Love,” was voted the top commercial during the game by viewers on Hulu, earned the top spot on USA Today’s Ad Meter, and dominated the other Super Bowl ads on YouTube.

Gee, that’s great. But they apparently put very little Bud in anyone’s fridge: Budweiser sales are down around 50% from 10 years ago.

The purpose of your business is to gain patients and that often means satisfying other customers, too (hospitals, other facilities, and referral sources) in order to have access to those patients. Deliver what those customers want. That’s delivering value.

Don’t do what your competitors are doing just because they’re doing it or because you might get some award for it.

Clydesdales and puppies might bring tears to your eyes but they don’t bring Bud to your lips.

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss


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