AMA unveils brand marketing campaign

Doctors are championed as everyday heroes in a new national multimedia campaign.

By Damon Adams — Posted July 4, 2005

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Chicago --Without Regina Benjamin, MD, many people in Bayou La Batre, Ala., would not have health care.

Of the 2,500 people in the Alabama town, more than half are unemployed and two-thirds live below the poverty line. Dr. Benjamin doesn't turn away patients who can't pay for medical care at her Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic. As a family physician and patient advocate, she provides care for the uninsured and fights health care bureaucracy for her patients.

She is one of the American Medical Association's everyday heroes.

That's the message of a newspaper ad featuring Dr. Benjamin, an AMA member since 1980. She and other physicians are showcased in a new three-year AMA marketing campaign designed to boost membership and champion the AMA as an advocate for patients on issues such as health care for the uninsured.

AMA leaders unveiled the national multimedia campaign at a news conference June 16 at AMA headquarters. The new brand and focus were officially introduced to physicians June 18 during the opening session of the House of Delegates Annual Meeting here.

"The AMA helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. Together we will play an active role in shaping the future of medicine," AMA Chief Marketing Officer Gary C. Epstein told delegates during the presentation.

Delegates were shown TV ads, which will begin airing this fall. They heard radio spots of AMA members, including outgoing AMA President John C. Nelson, MD, MPH, talking about public health issues. At press time, the radio campaign, called "AMA Doctor Visit," was scheduled to start running in late June.

Print ads began appearing June 19, when the first ad ran on the back page of USA Weekend, a magazine inserted in newspapers that reaches more than 50 million homes across the country. The AMA said this is the first time it has launched a national campaign featuring member physicians.

During the opening session, Epstein also showed delegates a short film that will be used as a recruitment tool and features AMA doctors as heroes of medicine. He said the film portrays the essence of the AMA and the profession. Delegates gave the film a standing ovation.

"I'm thrilled. It's words and images that indicate where we're going," said alternate delegate and resident David Rosman, MD. "Helping doctors helping patients is what we should be all about."

New logo and agenda

The AMA also unveiled a new logo. Its centerpiece is still the Staff of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. But it is now a more modern visual that Epstein said captures the aggressive and proactive role the AMA will play on behalf of physicians.

Purple replaces teal on the logo and AMA documents. Epstein said the color "connotes unity and balance, and communicates science, creativity and tradition."

"The logo tells the world that the AMA has changed," he said.

Ads and banners also boast new taglines: "Together we are stronger," and "Helping doctors help patients."

AMA leaders said two years of research and conversations with physicians nationwide helped shape the campaign and refocus the advocacy agenda. AMA Executive Vice President and CEO Michael D. Maves, MD, said physicians responded that they want three primary things from the AMA: involvement, advocacy and communication.

Dr. Nelson said research and interviews with doctors amounted to an evidence-based approach to the campaign. "There has been a tremendous amount of research that has gone into this," he said. "You'll find this is not just another little wrinkle at the AMA. This is something that is serious and has teeth and we feel very strongly about."

The refocused advocacy agenda features seven priority issues:

  • Medical liability reform.
  • Medicare physician payment reform.
  • Expanded coverage for the uninsured and increased access to care.
  • Improved public health, particularly through promotion of healthy lifestyles and elimination of health disparities.
  • Regulatory reform.
  • Managed care reform.
  • Clinical quality improvement and patient safety.

"Physicians want us to have a balance," Dr. Maves said. "We're really working hard on a more focused advocacy agenda."

The marketing campaign will be covered each year by $20 million in marketing funds the AMA sets aside annually, Association officials said. The goal is to raise the AMA's approximately 245,000 membership by 1% this year.

AMA leaders said they are excited about the new campaign and its potential impact.

"There's nothing more significant than doctors and patients working together to change the health care system," Epstein said.

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