Hospice by the Bay’s most recent public education campaign to motivate people to “have the conversation” about end-of-life issues has generated unprecedented interest from the public, according to the organization.

The advertising campaign was designed to address the resistance that many people have to talk about the subject and to encourage them to complete an Advance Care Directive.

Hospice by the Bay stated the effectiveness of the digital campaign was tracked through Google Analytics as well as other benchmarking methods.

• The ads have been shown over 15.6 million times, with over 75,000 clicks by users.

• The ads garnered high engagement – 480 percent more than the industry standard.

• Traffic to the Hospice by the Bay website – www.hospicebythebay.org - increased more than 19 percent during the campaign.

Based on the theme “The Deal,” the ads were targeted to adults 45 – 64 years of age who are primary caregivers to ailing parents, as well as to adults over 65 who may become patients in the future. It proposed that individuals make a “deal” with their loved ones talk about the topic, and drove readers to a special web page - www.wehelpyoudeal.org - for information and useful tips for having the conversation.

The campaign included a series of three ads that ran from early November 2016 to the end of January 2017 on digital platforms as well as in print media in San Francisco, Sonoma, and San Mateo counties.

“This is a difficult topic, so it was highly unusual to garner this degree of audience engagement,” said Chris Raniere, president of 46Mile, the San Francisco-based agency that created the campaign with Hospice by the Bay. Raniere also reported that 76 percent of the users came from mobile devices, consistent with on-going trends regarding user digital behavior.

The campaign also addressed resistance.

“End of life planning impacts all of us,” said Kitty Whitaker, RN, MS, CEO of Hospice by the Bay. “But it is indeed a difficult topic for many. That’s why we are so pleased with the results of this campaign. One of the most important things any of us can do is to ‘have the conversation’ regarding end of life issues, but many of us simply don’t want to talk about it. That’s why we developed this campaign – to call attention to the issue, to encourage people, and to give them practical tips.”

Research shows that about 50 percent of healthy families just aren’t ready to talk about the topic, the organization said. According to Whitaker, there are a variety of reasons why people are resistant, most often starting with innate denial (“it won’t happen to me”). Other reasons include:

• Fear and emotions – it is just too sad, uncomfortable, scary, or overwhelming to think and talk about.

• Reliance on family members (“My family will know what to do after I die”) or lack of trust that family members will follow wishes - so “why bother”.

• Cultural issues – discussions about death may be taboo.

• Age – the younger the person, the less likely they are to think the topic applies to them.

• Spiritual beliefs – there is no need to write down wishes as the future is in the hands of a higher power.

• Misunderstandings - that completing an Advance Care Directive requires the involvement of an attorney or that the individual cannot change their mind about their wishes.

“The fact is that the sooner the conversation is held, the better,” Whitaker said. “You determine your own future ahead of time. It helps everyone –your family, emergency medical professionals, and your doctor. You never know when a health crisis might occur. As hospice providers for over 42 years, we know first-hand that the more prepared one is, the better the outcome for everyone.”

An earlier campaign on the same subject, “TMI is good,” received two top awards from Modern Healthcare and Advertising Age magazines including the Gold Award for Digital Campaign of the Year and the Silver Award for Integrated Campaign of the Year.

That campaign, which also received a highly positive consumer response, used attention-getting headlines “Nice Tushy,” “The Freak,” and “Birthday Suit” to engage readers to learn more about their older parents’ histories and to start the conversation.

The nonprofit Hospice by the Bay is the second-oldest hospice in the nation and the first in California, providing end-of-life care for patients, support for their families and grief counseling to anyone coping with loss in the counties of Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, and the cities of American Canyon, Napa, and Vallejo.