An Apple A Day...
Researching old issues for our 50th anniversary next winter, we are impressed by how consistent the categories of advertising have been over the decades. The first issue in the late winter of 1965 carried the same kind of ads we see today – real estate, fashion, jewelry, travel, interior design, restaurants, cars, banking, boating. There are even some ads for products you don’t see today, at least in Florida. Furs, for instance. There were several furriers on the Gold Coast in the 1960s, and some bought prominent ads in early issues. But fur in Florida doesn’t fly anymore. Unless you count consignment shops.
But there is one category of advertising that did not exist 50 years ago. Even after five years of growth, during which the publication grew from an inaugural issue of 72 pages to more than double that, one finds not a single ad for a business that dominates our current issue.
There is no medical advertising. No hospitals, no doctors, no clinics specializing in cosmetic surgery. Nada. Such advertising just did not exist in those days. The magazine did run editorial on the medical field. Fundraising events for hospitals, and the opening of new medical facilities, were routinely covered. But there was no advertising to back it up. Even into the 1980s, medical advertising was rare, and when a hospital ran an ad in this magazine, it was not intended to fill beds. It was to attract the support of our wealthy readers who could help fund the medical advances and new facilities that attracted the patients who filled those beds.
Part of the explanation is that the professions once considered advertising sort of tacky, beneath the dignity of doctors and lawyers. That attitude gradually eroded. Today the media is filled with lawyers begging you to sue anybody, for any reason. And medical institutions and even the most respected and conservative doctors can be found in lifestyle magazines.
In 1992 there was an event that changed the game. Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. was formed by two doctors who saw a need for a company of medical professionals who surveyed the medical field and identified the top practitioners in various specialties, in markets all over the country. It was not a totally original idea. Back in the 1960s our old joint, Philadelphia magazine, ran occasional features listing the best medical people in that area. It did the same for other fields, including lawyers and legislators. The magazine’s staff was not qualified to determine the best people in various fields, but they sought out the people who were. That was time consuming and expensive.
Castle Connolly took the concept nationally. It may not have been its intention to stimulate advertising, but that’s what happened as more and more publications picked up their “Top Docs” feature. For obvious reasons, it is very popular with readers, and watched closely by the medical industry. Being named as the best in one’s field can be a big deal financially, and even those who were not in Castle Connolly’s lists have seen the value of identifying with the top docs in their markets. The result is in our pages this month.
This is written as the magazine is closing, but there will be between 40 and 50 medical ads, a number of them impressive full pages, in a category that once had none. And it isn’t just this month. Over the course of the year we carry dozens of ads relating to the health industry, including the leading hospitals in our area.
Now, to give something back for this bonanza, Managing Editor Jennifer Tormo profiles Dr. Oz on page 94. Contrary to her intro, we thought Dr. Oz was married to the Wizard or something. But then we don’t watch Oprah or much else except sports, news and the Bomb Channel. Her article, by the way, is one of the longer pieces we have run. But our memory only goes back 50 years. Our thanks to all our good docs for giving us the space to justify it.