6 Questions: Reality Check for Healthcare Ads & Slogans

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

One of the oldest and most familiar brand names in the mattress industry—Sealy—owes much of its success to an advertising executive. He invented the slogan: “Sleeping on a Sealy is like sleeping on a cloud.”

This goes back to the early 1900’s when Earl Edwards, a successful ad-executive-turned-entrepreneur purchased patents and bought into the bedding business. Over a hundred years later, Sealy (now Tempur Sealy International) is one of the largest mattress manufacturers in the world.

There’s no doubt that Sealy’s product excellence, brand recognition and innovation are major factors in the company’s long-playing history. But as a student of marketing, I like to think that the classic advertising slogan by Earl Edwards launched this enduring success story.

But is it real? Can you actually sleep on a cloud?    

“Like sleeping on a cloud” is a metaphor that, in its simplicity, touches the customer’s emotion and imagination with an admittedly fictional and fanciful, but positive, promise of sleeping pleasure. It’s also a quick check reminder for healthcare advertising claims.

To illustrate, answering a customer (patient) need is good; evoking an emotional connection is good; but an unrealistic promise (direct or implied) of a “cure,” a specific outcome or a false or misleading claim is deep-water trouble.

Here are six reality check questions for advertising. A universal premise here is that people are skeptical—highly skeptical—about advertising messages in general. So, to stay in safe territory, for more effective ads and for greater response:

  • What proof do you provide, and why should the reader/viewer believe this?
  • Specifically, is it clear what product or service you’re asking them to buy?
  • Are the benefits apparent and understandable?
  • How or why is this different amid fierce competition?
  • Is the information real and substantial, or just blah-blah puffery?
  • Why should your audience act now?

Creating powerful and effective healthcare advertising is difficult for many reasons, and it’s always reasonable to have a legal review for any claims, slogans and campaign materials. Persuasive messages answer to a prospective patient’s need in human terms, not medical terms.

For more on this topic, see: The 23rd Immutable Law of Healthcare Marketing. And, you can always reach out to us for candid advice and professional assistance. We’d love to hear from you.


Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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