While talking about health and medicine in today’s scenario, the cliché of ‘laughter is the best medicine works even now. You can see people (regardless of age) throwing their hands up in the air and laughing out loud in the parks. You can see youngsters glued to their smartphones watching stand-up comedy (ignoring their loneliness & depression). While one can laugh their hearts out (leaving logic & technicalities behind) while watching Munnabhai MBBS, ‘Therapeutic Humour’ is a concept that cannot be discarded just because there are advanced medications and innovations in healthcare. This article would ponder upon the question – how can advertising help in the healing process?
The Greater Potential of Communication Design
Patients are the most vulnerable when they are unwell or being admitted to a hospital. Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) come into the picture only when these patients need healing that’s more than just swallowing tablets and gulping doses of syrups. Using humour to communicate with patients demands a certain amount of sensitivity and knack which is quite a rare combination for an unlikely treatment method.
To help patients take their minds off the illness, HCPs tend to use humour in various ways. Some of the HCPs begin by using humour by putting themselves in the line of attack and laughing at themselves. Patients sometimes feel comfortable when they are taken care of by a doctor who treats them as a friend and not just as a patient. Munnabhai is not a fictitious character after all. There are very few HCPs who gain the trust of patients simply by timing their comic sense (not by using comic sans).
But, what’s in it for the patients anyway? Why is humour in healthcare advertising so important?
It helps build deep, meaningful relationships: Be it for the Pharmeasy commercials where the challenges faced by customers while buying medicines are shown in a humorous way, or be it for the astronaut coughing in the Cofsils commercial, most of the advertising in the healthcare industry today relies on humour. That’s how customers are able to connect with realistic situations rather than a commercial where a model dressed up as a doctor says – 1 out of 5 doctors recommend this soap, toothpaste or shampoo with microscopic terms & conditions written at the bottom that’s hardly visible for 3 seconds.
After all, even doctors are human beings. They too get to choose from hundreds of brands that the Medical Representatives (MR) try to promote at the hospitals and clinics. It’s quite exhausting. When brands identify this crucial issue, humour can play wonders in building a stronger, yet cherishable relationship between doctors and patients.
It lowers psychological barriers: The perception that doctors are serious and practical all the time has stayed in healthcare communication for a while. Sometimes, while talking to such ‘experts’ might give you an inferiority complex and an underlying fear that you might have certain illnesses that you never knew (which is true most of the time), but it all begins by opening up mentally. We’ve often seen that people use humour as a “Defence Mechanism” to mask their problems, like anxiety, depression, agoraphobia and so on. But, when HCPs address such issues on a lighter note, patients feel relieved to share their own.
For instance, there was a commercial by Vicks that addressed a serious issue (that seemed trivial) for everyone – Cold! We all know what a blocked nose can do to us. The classic commercial showed us that the only thing stopping us from expressing ourselves is the hesitation (hichkich) which can be treated by swallowing a pill (which obviously, isn’t true), but it did speak on the psychological barrier that we have. Talking about a serious issue in a humorous way can go either way – it can work in the favour of the brand with the patient being receptive enough and lowering their guards, and being more receptive towards accepting the serious message. Or, it can simply backfire for ‘not’ being serious and caring enough about the patients’ lives.
Lastly, humour levels the playing ground: Humour in healthcare communication is a great way to stand on the same ground as the patients and read their pulse. Doctor or not, if you got a good sense of humour with a great sense of timing, you can start a healthy conversation without seeing a therapist. Be it for a dentist trying to distract a child with toys from the toothache after the extraction, or be it for celebrities dressed up in their “Superhero outfits” to meet children with terminal cancer, sometimes health has got to do more with humour than just medicines. At 3 Dots Design Pvt. Ltd., we ensure that humour does every bit of justice to advertising in the healthcare industry. Being one of the top advertising agencies in Pune, our work in the healthcare industry is reflected in the communication design that we’ve done for Jehangir Hospital in terms of outdoor, internal and offline communication. Though not humourous, we have upheld the emotional aspect of healthcare quite well and our work is the testimony of what we are capable of. You think your brand needs to rethink the way it speaks to customers? Humour us! Check out our website www.3dotsdesign.in or drop a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org