Steward’s Super Bowl Sunday Spending

We were not sure whether to call this post by the name you see in the title, or something more like “Connors Continuing Caritas Coincidences.” We went with the Super Bowl title, and with game-time upon us, we will keep this one short.

On Friday, Steward Health Care System, the new entity formed to oversee the Caritas Christi hospitals, announced they were sponsoring a 30-second Super Bowl ad to launch themselves.  Here is the article in the Boston Globe about the new advertising campaign, and here is their spiffy new website.

In case you take a break during commercials to make a trip to the kitchen or bathroom and you miss the ad, here is the 30-second advertisement, seen here from Boston Catholic Insider even before it airs on TV:

According to the Globe article, 30-second advertising spots cost about $80,000 to air in the local market.  We saw one run during the game and one immediately after the game.  Brian Carty, chief marketing officer for Caritas and Steward and, coincidentally, a former exec with Jack Connors’ Hill Holliday advertising firm before Caritas,  would not disclose what the ad cost to produce.  BCI seems to recall that a key driver mentioned for selling Caritas was that they needed the infusion of capital to upgrade facilities and take care of the unfunded pension liability. We must have missed how that infusion of capital would be used to fund brand advertising campaigns.

BCI does not claim to have the marketing expertise of a Hill Holiday advertising exec or the progeny of advertising guru Jack Connors, but we must observe that the wording in the ad sounds frankly, glib:  “Believe compassion comes with a medical degree…Believe your neighborhood can save your life.”  Who writes this stuff anyway?  Is it the same people from Boathouse Group that brought us the “Quality to the people” ads a few years ago with the Socialism-style clenched fist? And what exactly is the brand-name they want viewers to remember?  Are they introducing “Steward” as the name of the new healthcare system, but people will still go visit their familiar local “Caritas” hospital? Or are they planning to re-brand the “Caritas” hospitals as “Steward”?  Who knows?  And the names of the local Caritas hospitals flash so quickly at the end that it was impossible to even read them.

By the way, in another coincidence, the Waltham, MA ad firm that Steward worked to create the ad, Boathouse Group, is run by Jack Connors’ son, John Connors III.

Also, in another remarkable coincidence, the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine has as its cover story a lengthy puff piece, I mean article about Caritas CEO, Ralph de la Torre.  It is called “The Healthcare Doctor.”  During the public debate over the acquisition price and how much Cerberus was really investing of its own cash, we asked repeatedly if the capital investments over future years were coming from Cerberus’ cash vs Caritas operating income and no one ever answered the question.  Now we have the answer:

Cerberus paid $495 million for the Caritas system, a sum that funded its pensions and retired most of its outstanding debt. It also committed to pumping another $400 million in capital improvements into the system over the next four years, although de la Torre acknowledges that those funds may come from hospital revenues in coming years, rather than from Cerberus itself.

We will let the focus of this post remain with the Steward campaign and the article about Ralph de la Torre, and will ask readers to refrain from commenting about the battle between the Steelers and Green Bay Packers.


12 Responses to Steward’s Super Bowl Sunday Spending

  1. Charlie on the MTA says:

    Good eye!
    Boston Catholic Insider may never win blogging awards because of your obvious need for anonymity, but you should.
    Thanks for connecting the dots, and dollar signs…

  2. Priest Just Wondering says:

    I believe I heard in the news that it cost three million dollars for a half-minute ad during the Super Bowl. I’m ‘Just Wondering” what was paid to air this spot. I’m not questioning the reality of the cost, I’m “Just Wondering” how much was actually spent and couldn’t it be better used to take pump more cash into thne pension fund?????

  3. Priest Just Wondering says:

    BCI – I’m Just Wondering!!!! Am I reading some material two times?????

  4. Priest Just Wondering,

    The Steward Super Bowl ad is just being aired in local Boston markets, not nationally, so that is why the air time cost is estimated at $80,000.

    So, you are correct that the cost for a Super Bowl ad aired nationally is $3M for thirty seconds. We will clarify this in our post.

  5. Jubilant Packers Fan says:

    I work in advertising and saw the ad. Yawn. Remarkably bland and forgeettable for a Super Bowl ad, overshadowed by dozens of clever, funny and memorable ads. It’s also dubious what they gain by spending money trying to brand “Steward,” when they want people go to their local Caritas Christi hospital. My guess is they’ve probably spent $500,000 for the filming, post-production, and advertising time during the Super Bowl and in local spots they plan to run after the game. Probably more likely to feed Caritas/Steward management egos than patient revenue.

  6. Pat in MA says:

    Confusing ad, and who is Steward? Spend the $ on healthcare, not marketing.

  7. Chris says:

    Gee, can you imagine the possible results if the Catholic Church had run “Welcome back Catholic” commercials during the Super Bowl? I’m “just wondering” too.

    • Fr. D says:

      With you 200% on this one for sure. The only problem is that they (the commercials) are rather long and the cost would have been right up there to be sure….however, they are compelling for sure.

  8. Michael says:

    I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why they put that on TV? I have only one possible answer.

    Is this the first boathouse media Superbowl ad? Are they that big a deal? Have they ever done a superbowl ad before this?

    So who made out here?

    It certainly isn’t a bad thing to put on your company’s list of accomplishments for 2011 — “made superbowl ad for a client.” Oops – forgot to tell you … client was (essentially) daddy … and ad (essentially) sucked.

  9. […] already know about the boring, ineffective, and very expensive Super Bowl commercials and how no one at Steward Health Care is apparently stewarding the Stewardship Agreement to […]

  10. Ben Stone says:

    Great Review of the Caritas Christie lost cross issue.

    Paul Levy BTW spent millions of dollars to promote BI as the Red Sox Hospital when most of the players went to MGH

    The issue at the heart of Caritas Christi (without the cross) is similar to Beth Israel becoming BIDMC.
    BI,one of the premier Jewish Institutions, no longer has a full-time rabbi or a dedicated kosher rabbi. It now has a former Catholic Episcopal Priest and a 19 hr Jewish Chaplain. No longer does it have a dedicated Jewish Hospital nor are Jewish Holidays days off.

    This de-racialization seems to be the norms for hospitals becoming more secular. That will be the future for Caritas Christi.

%d bloggers like this: