2001 alumna’s viral video wins national marketing award
Ashley Sides Johnson ’01 had a daunting assignment. How could she get out the word about a million-dollar surgical machine recently acquired by her employer, Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Ky., without repulsing her audience?
She did so—and recently won a national marketing award for the hospital—with a video that has been viewed almost 40,000 times on YouTube.
“She, presumably, is the only staff member at Methodist Hospital who ever wanted something to go viral,” said the local newspaper in a long article about the project.
As manager of marketing and public relations at the hospital, Johnson needed to publicize the minimally invasive surgical robot called da Vinci used in particular for hysterectomies and prostate removals.
Johnson told the Henderson Gleaner that she began her research on YouTube: “I kept thinking, ‘Robot, robot, robot.’ Then I thought about doing the Robot Dance. Then I thought, what if I make it look like the robot was doing the robot. What if I had a real B-boy”—a male break-dancer—“dancing and the robot copies his moves and they have a dance battle?”
LumaWorx, a nearby corporate communications company, was called in to help and eventually a production crew of four people spent eight hours in a Methodist operating room.
The resulting video shows a young custodian dancing as he mops an empty surgical unit. When he notices that the surgical robot is mimicking his hand movements, a competition ensues, but, according to the Gleaner article, “ultimately the dancer is unable to spin his wrists in a 360-degree motion to duplicate a challenge thrown out by the da Vinci machine’s tiny hands. The human concedes defeat and disappears, figuratively, into the sunset.”
For Johnson, who’s worked in marketing at the hospital for five years, it was exciting that “the [hospital] administration approved one of my crazy ideas and it came to life,” she told the Gleaner. “Us creative types sometimes get out there and have to be reeled back in.”
As for the video, it received a silver 2011 Aster Award, a national medical marketing competition that drew approximately 3,000 entries this year.