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Charleston doctors have method to their (March) Madness

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston Area Medical Center's marketing department took a fun approach to a short-term advertising campaign highlighting its urology group by suggesting March Madness is the perfect time to schedule a vasectomy.

"Snip, Dunk!" the headline to the ad reads.

"If you've been thinking about getting it done, now's the perfect time to schedule your vasectomy," the ad continues. "After all, if you have to sit around in a bath robe for two days doing nothing, why not do it when there's wall-to-wall basketball on TV?"

Heck, who can argue with that?

The ad goes on to explain that the sterilization procedure for guys takes about 15 minutes and at the hands of CAMC's board-certified physicians, there's nothing to worry about for those boy parts.

Well, the ad puts it more elegantly than that, assuring the docs will focus on "comfort and convenience to make each patient's experience the very best it can be."

Credit CAMC's crack marketing team for the campaign, which has been running twice a week in Charleston newspapers this month. CAMC spokesman and marketing team member Dale Witte said his team came up with the idea.

"There are four or five of us, and we work kind of like an advertising agency," he said. "We have two graphic designers who design the ads and the billboards."

The artwork for this ad is clean and simple - "Snip, Dunk!" in large type set over the image of a basketball.

Witte said the hospital seeks to highlight many of its services with campaigns that might focus on, say, cardiac care or orthopedic surgery.

This time, hospital officials suggested highlighting the urology group, which includes Drs. Samuel Deem, Ryan Fitzwater, Joshua Lohri, Frederick Martinez and James Tierney.

"We sit down and throw out ideas and sift through them. During the process everything is on the table," Witte said.

"This one is kind of a touchy subject. You could be toocute."

Squeamish folks may skip the next paragraph.

A vasectomy is considered a relatively simple procedure for male sterilization. The man's vasa deferentia, or ducts that carry sperm from the testicles, are cut and either tied or sealed off to prevent sperm from releasing.

Marketing campaigns connecting this male-oriented procedure with wall-to-wall hoops weekends aren't uncommon.

The Cleveland Clinic says scheduled vasectomies rise by 50 percent during the annual basketball tournament. And last spring, a Massachusetts urology clinic offered to throw in free pizza for patients who intended to recover while watching basketball.

Witte said one of the team members saw a similar idea in another state, where a hospital's ad played off sports and appealed to a guy that he'd get time off to watch TV.

They refined it, worked on the wording and then "test marketed" it around the hospital.

"We showed some different people in different age groups and everybody liked it," he said. The doctors in the urology group also approved.

The ad has run Sundays and Tuesdays and will finish its run this coming Tuesday. Then, the hope is that men seeking the procedure might actually follow through with the idea.

Witte speaks from experience when he says having a vasectomy really is no big deal.

"I had it done about 10 and a half years ago. It's fairly quick. They send you home with some ice and that's about it. You take it easy for a couple of days, just like the ad says," he said.

Contact writer Monica Orosz at or 304-348-4830.


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