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Shepherd Center Launches its First-Ever Advertising Campaign in Metro Atlanta Area

Shepherd Center has kicked off an advertising campaign in the Atlanta area aimed at creating a strong, local identity for Shepherd Center as the natural go-to choice when seeking expert rehabilitation care for catastrophic spinal cord or brain injury.

The campaign launched Aug. 12 and runs into November. It consists of outdoor billboards, radio spots for AM and FM, print ads, video and social media promotions. Each billboard features a staff member positioned in front of the Shepherd Center logo, giving the appearance of wings behind the staffer. The full logo also appears with the tag line: “Experts in Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation.” 

“When considering what imagery to use, we kept coming back to the inspirational descriptions we so often hear about Shepherd staff, like ‘miracle workers’ and ‘angels’,” said Larry Bowie, director of public relations and marketing. “We found a way to incorporate that by simply posing staffers in front of our own logo.”

The campaign marks the first time Shepherd Center has mounted a general advertising campaign since its founding in 1975 by the Shepherd family – Alana and Harold, and their son James, as well as David F. Apple, M.D., the center’s first medical director. In the past 38 years, Shepherd Center has grown to a 152-bed hospital annually serving nearly 1,000 inpatients from across the nation and more than 6,500 outpatients.

Most inpatients at Shepherd Center have been transferred from a trauma center that treated them immediately following their injury. The transfer typically occurs once a patient has been stabilized and physicians recommend an inpatient rehabilitation program. 

In the metro Atlanta area, those trauma centers include Grady Health System, Atlanta Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone, Emory University Hospital and Gwinnett Medical Center.

“Now, more than ever, healthcare decisions are made at the consumer level, and we want consumers to know they have choices when deciding upon their best option in rehabilitation care for catastrophic spinal cord or brain injury,” Bowie said.

The goal of the campaign is to introduce Shepherd Center to general consumers in a manner that isn’t overly dire or frightening, and in a way that’s unique enough to rise above the multitude of advertising messages out there. That’s a challenge, Bowie said, because most people don’t want to think about ever needing Shepherd’s services for catastrophic injury.

“We had to be mindful of the fact that the general consumer typically won’t need our services and doesn’t give us much thought until something happens and we become the most important thing in their day,” he said.

Shepherd Center partnered with Atlanta-based creative firm Frederick Swanston to develop the campaign. While the outdoor and print ads focus on staff, the radio ads were developed through real interviews with family members of former patients.

The first radio spot features the mother of a former patient who sustained a severe brain injury in a snowboarding accident, but went on to have a wonderful recovery and graduate from high school — on time — with his friends. Listen to the radio ad here.

The second features the father of a former patient who sustained a spinal cord injury when he was hit by a car. In the ad, he talks about the uplifting changes he saw in his son’s physical and mental state almost immediately after arriving at Shepherd Center. Listen to the radio ad here.

As a not-for-profit hospital, Shepherd Center hopes the ads will also draw in more donors who are moved by the hospital’s work, as well as the stories of the people who travel to Shepherd not only from the Atlanta area, but from around the nation, for rehabilitation care.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.