Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cancer hospital advertising, continued

Here’s the website logo of another institution, whose full name I won't include (for my first comment on cancer hospital ads, click here):

            [The first part of the institution's name]
            Cancer Center

            Making Cancer History

As you can see, the word “Cancer” is struck out; but actually on the website it’s struck out in red, and the red line through the word “cancer” ends with a brief downward curve, as if it had been added by hand, and with a flourish. The implication is that this institution has struck cancer out, which, sadly, is not true.

It may be true that this institution is “making cancer history” in one sense of those words: that in the annals of the treatment of cancer, what this institution is doing stands out. But “making cancer history” has a second meaning, which readers must also have been meant to think of: that this institution is making cancer a thing of the past. Again, sadly, that is not true.

But there’s another issue, one not particular to any institution but probably common to all institutional advertising. The phrase “making cancer history” doesn’t convey much information, but it does seek to generate – and rather cleverly, I must say – a positive feeling about the institution. There’s nothing wrong with generating positive feelings; in fact, I’m inclined to agree with scholars who maintain that all reasoning is laden with feelings.

But reasoning isn’t only about feelings, and here the positive feeling doesn’t come from any actual experience with the institution but just from the wit and attention-getting design of the institution’s logo. I don’t really think that a website logo can sway people’s judgment, but branding is an important part of marketing, and if marketers embrace it that’s because it is effective.

So, really, the question is: is it possible for a cancer hospital’s brand to be too clever?

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