Max Page as Mini-Darth Vader

Advocating for High-Quality Pediatric Care

 

The Children’s Hospital Association (formerly known as the National Association of Children’s Hospitals) engaged JPA to create awareness of the organization’s public policy priorities through the promotion of its annual Family Advocacy Day (FAD). The event brings together pediatric patients, their families and representatives of the association’s member hospitals to visit with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and advocate for children’s healthcare

For the 2011 FAD, JPA worked with CHA’s communication and government relations staff to create a key message that would resonate in the context of the Capitol Hill budget showdown: political wrangling has a tangible impact on sick children who depend on children’s hospitals across the nation. JPA's pitching efforts spotlighted Max Page, the six-year-old actor who played “mini-Darth Vader” in the Volkswagen 2011 Super Bowl commercial. Page has battled a congenital heart defect since birth.

Sanjay Gupta and Max PageThe Max Page story generated more than 240 million media impressions across the country, primarily fueled by a two-part exclusive with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The story also germinated mentions on The Today Show, Fox and Friends and Dateline. JPA also secured local media coverage of FAD by leveraging the stories of the two dozen other children who participated journeyed to Washington.

Overall, visibility for the 2011 FAD translated into more than 258 million impressions and raised the profile of threats to pediatric healthcare programs in the budget deficit conversation.

Challenge

  • Leverage a trade association’s lobby day, considered a non-story by most media, to generate awareness around CHA’s key legislative priorities
  • Keep the story and messaging focused on the potential impact of budget cuts on families and their children

Insights

  • Personal health struggle of children create a compelling news angle for both national and local media outlets
  • Outreach needed to carefully balance the “celebrity buzz” around Max Page, the six-year-old actor who played “mini-Darth Vader” in the Volkswagen 2011 Super Bowl commercial, and the substantive advocacy issues at hand

Strategies

  • Develop media materials specific to each child attending FAD and with clear tie-in to advocacy priorities in order to support outreach to local and national media outlets
  • Ensure all spokespeople, including association representatives, hospital leadership and families understood their role in delivering critical policy messages around children’s health

Success

  • Garnered exclusive coverage from CNN for Max Page story, and other top-tier/local media resulted in more than 258 million media impressions with messaging about CHA, pediatrician training funding, Medicaid and pediatric care issues
  • Earned coverage in local markets, including priority markets of Las Vegas, Jacksonville and Louisville, Ky.

Awards

  • Gold SABRE Awards: Finalist in Healthcare Providers Category (2012)
  • PR News' Nonprofit PR Awards: Honorable Mention in Media Relations Campaign (2012)
  • Hermes Creative Awards: Gold Award in Television Placement (2012)
  • National Health Information Awards: Gold Award in TV Reporting (2012)