‘I Am A Steward’ Ads During Olympics Draw Scrutiny

Here’s another fine story in Commonwealth magazine on Steward Health Care System’s ongoing push to gain market share in the region.

The current piece focuses on the company’s new ad campaign — running during the Olympics — that casts Steward “as a delivery system for a new type of world-class health care.” Bruce Mohl reports:

The powerful ads, shot on location at Steward hospitals in Norwood, Quincy, and Brockton and featuring employees from all of the chain’s 10 facilities, are attracting attention because of their message and the significant financial outlay they represent. Hospitals often advertise, but rarely on television, and rarely during a high-profile event such as the Olympics. When hospitals do run ads, the ads typically promote the hospital. But the initial Steward ads don’t even mention the chain’s hospitals; instead, they attempt to build a brand around the Steward name.

Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private equity firm, owns Steward, which operates hospitals in Fall River, Methuen, Brighton, Norwood, Dorchester, Brockton, Ayer, Haverhill, Taunton, and Quincy. The company’s foray into health care is being watched closely in Massachusetts. Many health care officials are skeptical that Cerberus/Steward can turn the struggling hospitals around, but Steward officials say they plan to expand their business model to other states. A Steward spokesman declined to discuss the ads, referring a reporter to the company’s press release.

Mohl closes his piece with a nice extra oomph of reporting:

According to Steward, the ads were developed by the Boathouse Group Inc. of Waltham and directed by Lisa Rubisch, who has shot ads for such companies as Nike, Fidelity, Coors, and Honda. In the irony department, Boathouse is run by John Connors, the son of Jack Connors, who founded the advertising firm Hill Holliday and recently stepped down as the chairman of Partners HealthCare, the corporate parent of two of the biggest teaching hospitals in Boston — Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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