Abercrombie & Fitch Trauma Center: Hospital Branding and the Court of Public Opinion

A recognition plaque in exchange for a donation is a stock in trade tool for many foundations and development offices. At my undergrad alma mater, you can buy an engraved brick in a paved walkway...I always loved reading the inscriptions between classes. For other SMCM alum, Goodpaster Hall, the campus' first 'green' building with Silver LEED certification, also has naming gifts available.

Donors often get 'named' facilities as a reward for significant institutional contributions, whether the dollars in question go to stadiums, classrooms, bathroom stalls (a la Brad Feld's personal pet project), or hospital trauma centers, like the new A&F Emergency Department and Trauma Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.

Read interesting commentary by Gienna Shaw at HealthLeaders Media detailing the 10M donation (first announced June 2006 - ground breaks this year - center opening slated for 2011).

Think there would be as large a ruckus if, say, Proctor & Gamble sponsored the Center? What about a manufacturer of popular prophylactics?

Is it more about where the donation comes from than the money itself, or the purpose for which it will be used?

Would your hospital accept a donation from a 'controversial' consumer goods company if it came with naming rights attached?

What if Trojan, Absolut (you have to be over 21 to enter their site), or McDonald's wanted to sponsor a service line facility?

How is the Abercrombie & Fitch/Nationwide Children's sponsorship arrangement so different from the time-limited contracts that allow firms to sponsor major sports stadiums?

Would Nationwide have been smarter to put a tenure on the naming rights so it could generate a source of renewable income for capital improvements, say, every 10 years?

With 4-6% margins in the best of times (and we're heading into some dark economic times where hospitals are even buying back their own nonmoving bond offerings), don't hospitals have a responsibility to aggressively and innovatively pursue sustainability via contracts, gifts, and other revenue-generating options?

Now, I wonder if Nationwide will have Abercrombie, ahem, art decorating the center walls...or A&F brand polos as the new staff uniform?


Ian Furst http://www.waittimes.blogspot.com said...

Currently I'm in a smaller tier 2 hospital and we have almost no sponsorship. But at Sick Kid's in Toronto there was massive branding all over the Atrium. HP was a big sponsor and there sat a 50ft teddy bear in the corner of the atrium named Huey. If the price for Corporate philanthropy is name recognition I'm all for it. Our hospitals are in need of the help. By the way the link to the article is dead. Interestingly, our Colleges (regulatory bodies) in Ontario would likely consider it an endorsement if a private practitioner accepted the same sort of relationship and could loose his/her license. Good blog.

Jen McCabe Gorman said...

Thanks Ian for the great comment and compliment...I've fixed the link. -JMG