Lifespan Launches Massive Ad Campaign While Losing Millions, and Refusing to Pay Prov

Thursday, March 16, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle

In 2015, Lifespan lost $9.5 million. In 2016, the financial losses jumped to $29 million.

The nearly $2 billion healthcare conglomerate suspended making any contribution to the City of Providence citing financial issues -- it has not made payments in three fiscal years. Lifespan is the only major college or healthcare organization not making a contribution to the capital city.

Despite the healthcare group's massive losses and claims of inability to make payments to Providence, Lifespan has launched a major ad campaign. 

Rationale Revisited

In August, Jane Bruno, Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Lifespan, told GoLocal, "Our primary mission is to serve the healthcare needs of the state and that requires solid financial performance. Just as Providence is addressing its financial challenges, Lifespan is focused on the fiscal health of our operations. Should our financial performance improve in the future, we will re-visit the issue of a PILOT payment to the city.”  

According to Lifespan's IRS filings, the top executives at the non-profit receive compensation packages between $600,000 and just under $2 million, according to 2013 data. 

"It is a little odd that while they profess to be broke and can’t make any contribution to the city, they can can spend hundreds of thousands on an ad campaign,” said Providence City Council President Luis Aponte.

According to an article in Diverge, the purpose of the campaign is to better connect consumers to Lifespan. “The gap between what is being sold and how it sold is greater in healthcare than any other category I can think of. Our client’s 'product' is literally life itself,” said Alec Beckett, Creative Director, Nail Communications, said in a statement. “To reduce their story to doctors and machines is to completely misunderstand what health care truly means to its recipients.”

“If you don’t lay off people and pay some share of contribution to the city, then people might like you a little better…you don’t need a TV commercial," said Aponte.

“It is a little hard to take their claims of poverty when they buy Victory Place and mothball it,” added Aponte.

Lifespan purchased the Victory Place land in 2016 for just under $6.5 million, according to Providence city records. The land is now vacant.

Bruno did not respond to questions from GoLocal regarding the cost of the campaign, the purpose of the effort, and how the healthcare giant balances the company’s financial condition with the expenditure on an advertising campaign.


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