Vanderbilt Medical Center reaches out to gay and lesbian community


Vanderbilt University Medical Center has launched a series of print and television ads in an effort to reach out to Middle Tennessee’s gay and lesbian community.

The ads are designed to let members of that community know that Vanderbilt is not only an accepting environment to work, its also a great place for the gay and lesbian community to receive medical care, explained Joel G. Lee, associate vice chancellor for Medical Center Communications.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Lee said. “It expresses our philosophy and values to this unique and diverse group.”

The gay and lesbian market is also one that is growing, willing to express preferences, and has expendable income. Surveys have shown that on average, a gay or lesbian household has almost double the median income of other households in Tennessee, based on the last census data. It’s also a market that Lee said had been underserved by the corporate community and the media.

The ads are just part of the marketing outreach – Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has also signed on as a sponsor of the GLBT Business and Life Expo, which will be held in November by the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce. VUMC will provide physicians and nurses to talk about gay and lesbian health issues.

The ads are currently set to run in gay and lesbian media only – but Lee said they may also be placed in mainstream media.

A print ad has run in the October and November issue of “Out & About Newspaper,” a state-wide GLBT publication, which leads with the heading “progressive healthcare in a progressive environment.” A television ad is set to run on the GLBT news and information show, “Out & About Today” on NewsChannel5+ on Comcast cable channel 50.

The ad campaign was designed by Nashville based ASAP Advertising.

“Our approach was a no-brainer because Vanderbilt really does do all the things we talked about in the ads,” explained Martica Griffin, with ASAP Advertising. “When it comes to medical care, they strive to bring the best care to all patients.”

It isn’t the first time Vanderbilt has reached out to a specific community – advertising campaigns have run in Hispanic newspapers – but it is the first time the medical center has marketed to an emerging market like the gay and lesbian group.

“This is the first time that we have looked at a community (from a marketing perspective) that is emerging in definition,” Lee said. “But it’s clear that the Middle Tennessee gay and lesbian community is growing and it is more apparent that it is acting like a community.”

Vanderbilt has offered domestic partner benefits to its employees since 2000, and at that time, also included sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy.

“We have an open, accepting and collegial environment here that permeates the campus,” Lee explained. “The marketing initiative expresses that environment. It shows that we understand the gay and lesbian community and we want to serve them as a unique group.”