The Power of PR:  What Taylor Swift and the HOLLYWOOD sign have in common​​​​​​​

October 16, 2019

The Power of PR:  What Taylor Swift and the HOLLYWOOD sign have in common

Both were pranked as part of a related publicity stunt that was 20 years apart!

For those of you in the LASIK business, you’ve been given a huge gift courtesy of Jimmy Fallon, who surprised guest Taylor Swift by showing a video taken by her mom following LASIK surgery.     The young star was a bit loopy from the pain meds and pouts over a choosing a banana.   It’s hilarious and contains what may be every teenager’s new rally cry when mom or dad knocks on the bedroom door:  “I’m not asleep my mind is ALIVE!”
She tells Jimmy that she’s seeing very well at the start of this clip and her embarrassed reaction to her mom’s mini-documentary following LASIK is priceless. 
Given Taylor Swift’s icon status – her songs are a “diary to her fans” – we can expect to see a whole new generation consider laser vision correction simply because of their love and adoration for this highly talented artist.    Her influence even has a name:  The Taylor Swift Effect. 
I must admit that I was part of her audience a few years ago at Levi’s Stadium.  Having seen hundreds of concerts, I was blown away by her presence and performance on a big stage.    Her sincerity comes through on TV as well as it does on stage.  The fact that this TV clip is not a paid endorsement makes it all the more authentic as a testimonial for the world’s most commonly performed elective surgical procedure.    I had it done years ago…when Taylor was 5 years old. 
Refractive eye surgeons had long wished Oprah would have LASIK; now that Taylor sees without contacts, they’ve been given an even better ambassador for the procedure. 
Twenty years ago – long before YouTube and social media – LASIK celebrated another milestone, the one millionth procedure performed in the United States by surgeons using the VISX laser (the manufacturer that developed the technology).  It was a neat moment in the fall of 1999 as several hundred surgeons helped promote the milestone in their local markets as part of a contest held by the manufacturer.  
The winning entry came via a huge 100x300 foot logo placed on the Hollywood Hills.   It was awesome and came via the hard work of the surgeon and friends who sewed together dozens of blue tarps as seen in the video below, with radio station KFWB’s helicopter reporting the event. ​​​​
There are a few key lessons that can be applied to every medical practice or business seeking to promote itself:

1. PR – the original social media -  is far more impactful than paid advertising, especially with a generation and societal trend that tunes out mass advertising.

2.Celebrity testimonials are still powerful.  They need to be authentic.  

3.Building the category is far more important than building the brand.

Doctors and medical companies are overly focused on building their individual brand at times when they should be more concerned about the category.   This newest LASIK patient should give a boost to a category of medical technology that has improved millions of people's lives around the world yet has struggled to grow, in part due to self-inflicted wounds (price discounting, poor outcomes) that could have been avoided. 
Congratulations Taylor Swift on your newfound freedom.  You now own your vision just like you own the stage!  And good luck to all those who offer LASIK; may this new milestone help create more interest and demand for the procedure and your practice. 
“You must understand what business you’re really in if you want to bond with your customers.