St. Louis Children's Hospital experiments with 'docu-series' marketing
Mar 16, 2013 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
St. Louis Children's Hospital is taking marketing to a new level with a documentary-style television series that will run in half-hour weekly episodes starting today at 6:30 p.m.
"The Front Line for Hope" follows several patients, families and hospital staff as they cope with illness and emergencies. The series was produced by St. Louis-based Coolfire Media and Coolfire Originals, which has six reality shows in production on networks such as Oprah's OWN, the Discovery Channel and NickMom.
"Unless you have a sick child and experience it firsthand, it can be difficult to comprehend the situations or extent of what occurs here everyday," said Steve Kutheis, director of marketing at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "We wanted something that gave a true-to-life, in-depth and very personal view of our staff and Washington University physicians, and how they help patients and families."
While producers say the show captures real-life moments for dozens of families and staff over the course of eight months, producers are calling it a "docu-series" rather than a reality show or documentary.
The series will not show any sort of disclaimer saying it was paid for by the hospital, said Coolfire CEO Jeff Keane. But he stressed the hospital had little editorial control, and Coolfire had free rein to pick the stories and characters.
"We sat down with them in the beginning and told them that we didn't want this to be a corporate video or just a straight-out marketing and advertising piece for the hospital. If we are going to do this, we really need to go in as storytellers ... and that's what we did," Keane said.
It's the first time Coolfire has been hired by an organization to produce a show. Typically, producers come up with their own concept and pitch it to networks. In this model, KSDK got handed a free show and will make money from the commercials it sells, Keane said.
"It's definitely not the typical model," he said, but it's one he expects to repeat. "We have relationships with other large hospitals in other large markets that we are, in the very near future, going to take this concept to."
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