In authentic storytelling, bring your ears and the critical eye


This is a story about a script we threw away. 

It began when our client, ProMedica, asked us to create a 30-second television spot as part of a campaign to promote its bariatric surgery services. We wrote a TV script that seemed to hit all the right notes. It was warm. Empathetic. Emotional on a basic level. And it conveyed all the information ProMedica wished to get across; no easy task in 30 seconds. We were happy with it, and so was our client.

But then it came time to decide whether the commercial should feature an actor or a real patient. Our script gave us options and we, along with ProMedica, decided an actual patient would be best for this spot. Her name was Carla Steele, and we sat down to interview her about a month before production was scheduled to begin. That’s when everything changed.

Carla told us about life as a bariatric surgery patient pre-surgery, post-surgery and 10 years after surgery. She spoke eloquently and honestly, providing our team with tremendous personal insight. And when she was done, we knew we needed to take another look at the script.

“Can we make this better?” is a question we’re constantly asking ourselves at Hart. Regarding our bariatric TV spot, the answer was yes. And so we rewrote it with Carla in mind. The new script captured her emotional journey; it was more authentic to the story of bariatric surgery patients in general, and it had, for lack of a better word, a soul.

HubSpot Video


When the spot aired, the feedback was as swift as it was glowing. The bariatric surgeons at ProMedica remarked that we’d, “truly captured the journey of a bariatric surgery patient,” while spots from competitors only scratched the surface.

But the most meaningful praise was from Carla herself, who said, “I have heard from so many folks who remarked how calming and soothing it was to hear from someone who had gone through the process. That was the best compliment. I feel like your team heard my story and told it right.”

Now, more than ever, is a time for brands to partner with those who believe being transparent, honest and even a little vulnerable is key to effective communication. Let’s continue to tell stories, meet people where they are and take part in shared experiences. Put purpose above product. Push boundaries and try something new.

At the end of the day, that's what we do at Hart. We listen to people’s stories. Client stories. Customer stories. And we try to tell them in ways that feel fresh and authentic. If you're looking for an honest perspective on your current content or if you'd like to participate in a storytelling brainstorm, get in touch.


Jeff Lutz
VP, Corporate Communications & Content