How OOH is Impacting the Healthcare Industry

Three colorful images in a subway station with tips on how to stop the Covid spread.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the healthcare industry has been at the forefront. Several different pharmaceutical companies have created vaccines that are now being distributed around the world, meaning that the pandemic is coming closer to an end. Although we all hope that Covid will soon be a thing of the past, the healthcare sector will only continue to grow as more people have become aware of the importance of the industry. Mental health awareness has also increased drastically during the pandemic as there are increasing cases of depression and anxiety linked to the stress of lengthy isolation times, social distancing, and lockdowns. Because of the importance of the healthcare industry, it has become essential for companies to develop marketing strategies that help educate citizens on Covid-related matters. This article will explore how healthcare companies have used OOH advertising to share messages that support, inform, and encourage the public with examples that demonstrate its powerful impact.

Facts & Statistics

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global healthcare spending will reach over $10 trillion by 2022. The industry has been one of the fastest-growing for several years now, but even more so since the pandemic hit. In the United States alone, about $10,348 is spent per person on healthcare. The importance of providing optimal healthcare and increasing spending in the industry has heightened since Covid struck, making it apparent that there aren’t enough hospital beds and ventilators in the ICU to support a worldwide pandemic. Furthermore, because of the current aging population, it will be essential to increase healthcare spending as more people will need treatments for chronic age-related conditions. Since our global healthcare system was not prepared for a pandemic, leaders will need to increase the spending amounts and effectiveness for healthcare workers and equipment. There will also need to be an increase in spending on advertising to better educate people. By putting more money into marketing campaigns, particularly OOH, companies will be able to strategically inform people of new and emerging healthcare-related procedures. With OOH, people are more likely to take notice of the ad unlike TV or internet ads, which most people tend to block out. 

Pharmaceutical Industry & Covid Vaccine

Covid-19 vaccine bottles from Pfizer.

Governments have invested billions of dollars into pharmaceutical companies to research, develop, and manufacture a Covid vaccine as fast as possible. Billions of doses will need to be administered worldwide for there to be enough herd immunity to stop the spread. Scientists and medical professionals have been using every resource possible to create the vaccine and administer it worldwide as fast as possible. Several companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, have already had their vaccines approved for distribution by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and people around the world have started receiving them. As lockdowns begin to lift, people will start to go out again whether that’s to shopping malls, commuting to work, or visiting family and friends. This is why OOH advertising will play a crucial role in advertising the vaccine to people as they go out for non-essential trips for the first time in months. The public will need to be educated and this is exactly what OOH advertising is best at; informing people with the use of emotion and storytelling to convey a message. Place-based OOH ads such as digital billboards, truck-side ads, and posters will play a crucial role in stopping the spread and ending the pandemic as soon as possible.

Mental Health Awareness

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of people worldwide. Cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and suicides have increased drastically due to restrictions on socialization and lockdowns. According to a study in the JAMA Network, a medical journal published by the American Medical Association, depression symptoms in the US increased more than three times during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 8.5% to 27.8%. Depression and other mental health disorders often occur after traumatic events and Covid has been life-changing for a lot of people. An increasing number of deaths, never-ending lockdowns, fear of losing jobs, and the fear of getting sick has caused a lot of stress for people globally. It was also found that people with less than $5000 in household savings were associated with 1.5 times more increased odds of depression symptoms; this is even more drastic during Covid because of the increasing unemployment rate. OOH advertising plays a major role in spreading awareness, giving people hope, and making sure that people stay healthy and safe. With the increase of hope, people are more likely to stay optimistic and combat symptoms of depression. This is the perfect time for OOH ads to spread such messages of hope and positivity during these difficult times.

Reddit Cofounder’s Billboard

Red and blue billboards in Times Square with the message "Staying home means saving lives. #FlattenTheCurve".

The co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, wanted to spread awareness about the pandemic and encourage people to stay home to stop the spread of the virus. He purchased a billboard in Times Square, one of the most prominent places that you can advertise, with messages that said, ‘Staying Home Means Saving Lives’, encouraging people to stay home. The billboard included the hashtag #FlattenTheCurve. New York City was one of the places that was hit the hardest at the start of the pandemic, with over 500,000 total cases and now has 26,000 deaths at this point in time. When asked why OOH was the chosen medium for this campaign, Ohanian stated, “Because it occupied physical space and there’s no way to ad block it and the placement sends a message itself, it’s the only form of advertising that can organically be spread. Nobody is actively taking a screenshot of a Facebook ad unless it’s gone terribly wrong.” He is completely correct in his statement as OOH advertising is the perfect medium to use to stop the spread and educate people because it cannot be blocked like an online ad and people are bound to take pictures of it, which will then be posted all over social media and thus, increase awareness and engagement.

JCDecaux Thanks Essential Workers

Billboard by JCDecaux with a picture of several nurses and the message "Thank you Nurses".

JCDecaux, one of the largest outdoor advertising corporations, created an OOH ad campaign consisting of several billboards around Australia. The billboards displayed  messages that thanked essential workers for their contribution to help end the pandemic and save lives. The messages were for nurses, grocery store workers, postal workers, and others, to thank them for their hard work during these crucial times. The OOH ad campaign was created to spread hope, give gratitude, and to raise awareness of the sacrifices that our essential workers have made for us. The campaign was also created to spread mental health awareness and support local businesses and charities. JCDecaux’s CEO, Steve O’Connor, said that “In a time of tremendous upheaval and uncertainty for us all, there are many Australians working night and day to keep us cared for and making sure we have access to necessary services, and of course our medical professionals – true heroes, facing great challenges and potential threats to their own health to keep us safe. Our hope is they see this campaign on their way into work and home again, and they know that we recognize and applaud their contributions.” This was an amazing ad campaign that demonstrated how important it is to show gratitude and spread messages of positivity to give people hope.

Totally Recovered

Digital billboard in a public bathroom with the message "Death Fear Tragedy (Defeated)" and showing the number of people recovered from Covid.

Orb, Ireland’s largest digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising company, conceived an ad campaign called ‘Totally Recovered’. It was produced by Creative Conscience and L&Co, developed by Voodooh and Nicole Yershon, and designed by advertising graduate Megan Williams. The campaign could be purchased for any DOOH network and consisted of billboards that could be put up anywhere by the purchaser, including highways, convenience stores, and even public bathrooms. The message on the screens was a play on words with the main text stating, “Death Fear Tragedy,” and the bolded letters consisting of “Defeated”, thus changing the message from a place of fear to a place of hope. On the bottom of the screen there was real-time global data sourced from Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control. The data was constantly updated to showcase the number of people that have recovered from Covid worldwide. This clever DOOH ad gave people hope that millions of people have already recovered from Covid, so there is no reason to be living in fear.

To Conclude

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of the global population. Almost everyone in every country in the world has been affected by Covid and the statistics are proof of that. Both the physical and mental health of civilians has been greatly impacted during the lockdowns and isolation that the pandemic has created. The OOH industry has played an important role by promoting pharmaceutical companies and creating mental health awareness during such crucial times. With words of encouragement, advice on stopping the spread, and promoting the long-awaited vaccine, the healthcare industry was able to support and save lives in 2020. People are now more aware of their health than ever before and it will be vital for the healthcare sector to keep expanding and providing the necessary services and treatments for anyone who needs them with the help of OOH advertising.

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