Steward’s Super Bowl Sunday Spending

February 6, 2011

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.

 


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