Cord blood ads have hypnotic effect

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An unconventional technique led to the counter-intuitive insight behind a campaign for Cord Blood Registry (CBR).

Despite high awareness—around 90%—and acceptance of the need for cord blood banking, fewer than 5% of expectant moms bank. CBR knew it faced an action problem—not an awareness problem. “In a situation where 95% of cord blood is disposed of as medical waste, our competition is really the trash can,” said Dave Zitlow, SVP corporate communications at CBR.

The company thought cost was the most likely culprit, but that rationale didn't quite make sense, since the bank's primary target was Range Rover-driving “Yoga moms.” CBR's agency, Draftfcb, brought in an addition specialist to get under their skin. He put his subjects in a light state of hypnosis and asked them to draw what they were feeling when they decided not to bank.
“With unbelievable consistency, they kept drawing a circle around their heart connecting to the child, rather than the umbilical cord,” said Mike Rutstein, EVP director of consumer healthcare at Draftfcb.

The women, they concluded, identified love, and not the cord, as the life-giver, and could not conceive of sickness while giving life. So the campaign, in Webisodes, in-office materials and print ads running in women's and pregnancy mags, eschewed a disease focus in favor of tales of heroism, telling the stories of moms who saved lives—of their children or others through donated cord blood. In the print ads, they wore capes. “We flipped this from being about sickness and disease to being about hope and heroism,” said Rutstein.

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