AMA rebranding with $20 million campaign

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The American Medical Association is rebranding with a nearly $20 million advertising and outreach campaign aimed at shoring up membership and leveraging the group's brand equity with patients to advance its political agenda.

The group is launching radio and print ads and this morning unveiled a redesigned logo, featuring a more "modern" and "active" Staff of Aesculapius in a rich, "regal" purple. TV spots will break in September.

"The AMA is a great, venerable old brand, but it was maybe a bit dusty," said AMA chief marketing officer Gary Epstein, a former chief of Euro RSCG Tatham Partners in Chicago who was brought in to do some dusting. "We're looking towards modernizing it, having it represent the future of healthcare in America."

The logo redesign was handled by Chicago-based brand and design firm Time Zone One. Advertising is being handled by Frankel, also in Chicago, while media buying and planning is handled by the ad agency's media division, StarLink. The campaign will feature images of doctors interacting with patients (as will all AMA materials, including business cards), along with the tagline "The AMA: helping doctors help patients."

The AMA, said Epstein, aims to improve its standing with its membership in an increasingly competitive environment while targeting what he calls the "patient gatekeeper community" – chiefly women who make family medical decisions and serve as the gatekeepers at doctors' offices – to burnish the group's prestige and bolster its lobbying clout. In addition, the group will distribute co-branded marketing materials to allied member organizations such as state medical societies on pet legislative issues such as medical liability and Medicare physician payment reform.

"As the largest organization representing physicians in the country, if not the world, it's important that doctors and patients alike know our policies and the role we're playing," said Epstein. "We are out there as a champion for physicians."

The AMA's membership has declined in recent decades – from 39 percent of U.S. physicians in 1993 to 23 percent in 2002 – and has also gone grey, with members under 40 declining by 50 percent over the same period. However, since 2003, numbers of young physicians and women physicians have improved, with year to date membership for young physicians up 6.1 percent and for women up 6.3 percent.
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