SickKids and Mount Sinai get together for Valentine’s Day

The co-branded spot highlights how quality-of-life programs can help patients feel less lonely on special occasions.

The SickKids Foundation is showing love for its neighbours with a Valentine’s Day spot that it co-branded with Mount Sinai Hospital.

The two Toronto hospitals are across the street from each other and share an underground tunnel that makes it easier to transfer patients between hospitals.

“We’ve always thought that was an interesting starting point for a story,” says Lori Davison, VP of brand strategy and communication for the children’s hospital. SickKids creative director Andrew Hart used it for his internally developed script that shows a group of children from SickKids surprising a Mount Sinai patient, sneaking into her room via the underground tunnel to decorate it for Valentines Day.

It’s meant to show that some donation dollars go to patient amenity funds that “help hospitals feel less like hospitals at these times of year,” Davison tells strategy. The young girl who stars in the ad is shown doing crafts with other kids as an example of the kind of quality-of-life programs available at SickKids.

In October, the script was shared with Lindsey Hodgson, executive director of brand marketing for Mount Sinai Health System, who agreed to partner on the production. Davison says the project was more complex than others she’d developed because it involved working around the schedules of two working hospitals. The ad stars real patients and staff from both facilities. “I have to say, [Mount Sinai] were really nimble… but there was no real opportunity to shoot it until January,” she says.

The tone is light and upbeat – a definite shift from some of the darker, harder-hitting SickKids’ “VS.” work that has been produced in recent years.

“We don’t want to just hit one note,” said Davison. “It’s been a conscious effort for us to be a little bit unexpected and hit a lot of musical notes so that [the “VS.” campaign] doesn’t get predictable.” She points to the various milk and cookie executions that have launched around the December holidays, which typically have a more playful approach.

Marketing in the non-profit sector is challenging because brands are not only dependent on Canadians’ generosity, which can shift year-to-year, but their messaging must compete for attention with other non-profits equally in need of donations. Was SickKids concerned that a co-branded spot might affect donations to its foundation?

“Hospitals are places where, during special occasions, people feel lonely and that’s a universal truth,” Davison says. “Putting the idea that Toronto hospitals need your help this time of year top of mind is good for all of us. If anyone is considering directing donations to a Toronto hospital, that’s good for SickKids because ultimately the work that goes on in other hospitals, like research, benefits our kids.”

While the spot was produced internally, SickKids consulted with its creative agency Cossette and tapped HeydSaffer as a production partner.