Home Instead Steps Up Advertising Game With ‘The Third Stair’

A middle-aged man and woman sit down at a circular table, their arms stretched outward toward an older gentleman with silver hair, wearing a sweater vest, sitting across from them. “Dad, we need to talk about something important,” the middle-aged man says.

The important — yet difficult — conversation about to unfold is about long-term care plans and staying at home. With thousands of baby boomers turning 65 years old everyday, the talk is becoming more common.

The older gentleman immediately begins to reflect on the memories he created in the house with a woman named Martha, presumably a wife who has passed away. Martha playing the piano with all the house’s windows open. Waking up every morning to the smell of Martha cooking pancakes. Martha asking him to fix the third stair that always creaked.


That creaking third stair “is home,” the gentleman says.

“You don’t have to go anywhere, dad,” the middle-aged woman says, just before a professional caregiver walks into the house.

The emotion-packed scene plays out in Omaha, Nebraska-based Home Instead Senior Care’s newest advertising endeavor, a roughly two-and-a-half-minute video produced by Chicago-based Energy BBDO. The home care franchise company hopes its “The Third Stair” video — which has been praised by AdWeek, Biz Journals and other outlets — will help bring attention to the value home-based care offers in keeping seniors at home as they age, Home Instead Director of Advertising and Marketing Research Katie Cox told Home Health Care News.


“The real value is showing people they’re not alone,” Cox said. “There are families all over struggling with this decision on how to care for their loved ones, but they have a choice. That choice is the ability to stay at home, to be able to stay in comfortable surroundings where memories were made.”

Preparing for ‘critical point’ in the demographic shift

With about 1,130 individual franchise locations across the globe and more than $1.58 billion in systemwide sales, Home Instead Senior Care is one of the most well-known non-medical in-home care agencies in the industry.

To that point, “The Third Stair” isn’t necessarily about increasing brand recognition, Cox said. Rather, it’s about educating consumers about long-term care options and getting challenging conversations started.

“[Home care] is a service that you don’t think about until you really need it,” Cox said. “The oldest boomer is 72 and the average Home Instead client is about 78, so we’re just on the edge of this demographic shift. One of the challenges we face is really getting across this idea of choice and that there’s this option to stay at home.”

The tear-jerking video isn’t just about educating seniors and their families, however. “The Third Stair” is also meant to show professional caregivers the value of their work and how Home Instead appreciates the personal relationships they develop with clients.

“In the spot itself, we do target the senior, as well as the loved one of the senior, who’s helping to make decisions,” Cox said. “But we also target the caregiver because we know there’s a caregiver shortage that’s happening right now, and we want caregivers to understand the difference they can make.”

Employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 41% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a tight labor market and sky-high turnover rates, home care executives often cite staffing as their No. 1 challenge.

All about ‘the emotional connection’

Similarly to how “The Third Stair” isn’t just about targeting seniors or their family members, the video isn’t solely about emphasizing Home Instead’s specific services. Most of the home care agencies competing in the fragmented market offer companionship services or light-housekeeping services, for example.

Instead, Home Instead and Energy BBDO chose to take a more evocative approach to get potential clients’ attention.

“We feel like our service is more about our relationship and our connection with clients over tasks,” Cox said. “That’s really what we were trying to get through in the spot.”

Andres Ordonez, chief creative officer at Energy BBDO, a part of international advertising titan BBDO Worldwide, echoed that idea.

“We’re working as a brand on a responsibility that we have going beyond just giving a service,” Ordonez told HHCN.

While Home Instead has not worked with Energy BBDO in the past, the home care franchise company and advertising agency plan to further highlight the value of home care in “many stories” still to come, Cox said. The full “The Third Stair” video is available online. Shorter national television spots have appeared on strategically chosen networks — including on HGTV, A&E, USA Network and the Hallmark Channel — since Oct. 15.

Cox declined to comment on the cost to produce the video or on Home Instead’s media budget.

Home Instead isn’t the only senior care company to pursue ambitious advertising projects with strong storytelling components.

Sunrise, Florida-based Interim HealthCare released a video featuring a couple’s experience with hospice. Brentwood, Tennessee-based Brookdale, the nation’s largest owner and operator of private-pay senior living communities, also launched national TV spots featuring actual caregivers telling their stories.

Gillette also received positive feedback for an ad promoting an assisted shaving razor, which hauled in a bunch of awards and was praised for its emotional resonance.

Energy BBDO’s home care debut

BBDO Worldwide is widely regarded as one of the most creative agencies in the advertising business, garnering awards such as Network of the Year at the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Energy BBDO, in particular, is known for its storytelling skill.

“We’re recognized for creativity and effectiveness,” Ordonez said. “And we believe in the power of storytelling and innovative experiences.”

Other prominent work from Energy BBDO includes the love story “Sarah & Juan” for Extra Gum, which has tallied more than 110 million YouTube views and was one of the most watched YouTube videos of 2015. “The Story of Lucy,” the tale of a father’s love for a daughter, is another well-known spot. It was produced for Windex.

Energy BBDO “works pretty much everywhere” and “across every category,” including in the health and wellness spaces, Ordonez said. Home Instead’s “The Third Stair” is Energy BBDO’s first foray into home care, however.

That’s likely to change as demand for home care services continues to grow.

“What makes your home your home? We all have something,” Ordonez said. “We all have this thing that connects us back and reminds us of the beautiful moments. What we want to do is tell those stories because they have so much magic and power.”

Written by Robert Holly

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