Fundraising campaigns in the spotlight: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was the top TV ad spender in April

Editor's note: This story has been updated to make clear that an organization's total spend is based on media value. Some networks give charity organizations donations or discounts.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital treats some of the sickest kids in the country—and doesn't charge patients and their families a penny for care. That kind of mission requires relentless fundraising campaigns: It costs $2.4 million per day to operate St. Jude, and public contributions provide more than 75% of those funds.

So perhaps it's not surprising that St. Jude's was the top spender on TV ads in the hospitals and clinics category in April, according to, a real-time TV ad measurement company that offers attention and conversion analytics from 10 million smart TV screens.

RELATED: UnitedHealthcare tops industry TV ad spending in April; top payer campaigns take on wellness and prevention

Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Shriners Hospitals for Children rounded out the top three.

"Media spend" is calculated by value and doesn't necessarily represent the actual dollar amount the organization spent, according to iSpot TV. All of the organizations in this article may have received donated or discounted air time.

St Jude's media spend was $8.7 million, running 15 ads 2,212 times on national TV in April.

Although the organization is known for its celebrity spokespeople, the top ad last month focused on young patients and their families. 

  • St. Jude's April spend, measured by media value: $8.7 million
  • Campaign scope: 15 ads ran 2,212 times on national TV
  • TV ad impressions: 133.4 million
  • Top ad: “Save Children’s Lives” 
  • Call to action: Donate $19 a month and become a St. Jude "Partner in Hope"
  • Agency: Haworth Marketing + Media
  • Recently aired on: The Twilight Zone on SYFY
  • Average view rate: 95.51%

(The industry's average view rate is 95%, where 91.6% of views watched the ad through the third quartile.)

Cancer Treatment Centers of America spent $3.8 million in April, running 14 ads 1,519 times on national TV, according to iSpot. 

Its top ad tells the story of breast cancer patient Jennifer Thigpen. She talks about her fear for herself and, in particular, her daughter, but also puts the focus on patient-centered care, shared decision-making and a team-based approach to care.

"I wanted to go to a place that would empower me," she says. 


  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America April spend, measured by media value: $3.8 million
  • Campaign scope: 14 ads ran 1,519 times on national TV
  • TV ad impressions: 213.6 million
  • Average view rate: 94.46%
  • Top ad: “Jennifer Thigpen”
  • Recently aired on: Dr. Phil on the Oprah Winfrey Network
  • Tagline: “The Evolution of Cancer Care Is Here”
  • Agency: iCrossing

Shriners Hospitals for Children spent $1 million, running 18 ads 783 times on national TV. The organization treats all children, regardless of their families' ability to pay. Like St. Jude's, it relies on donations to keep the doors open. 

In its top spot last month, children answer the question "What is love?" And sure, love is puppies, as one child says. But it's also getting a new prosthetic, being able to dance or play checkers with mom and healthy teeth. 


  • Shriners Hospitals for Children's April ad spend measured by media value: $1 million
  • Campaign scope: 18 ads ran 783 times on national TV
  • TV ad impressions: 51.3 million
  • Average view rate: 94.57%
  • Our favorite line: "You gotta call the love doctor"
  • Recently aired on: Secrets on Smithsonian
  • Call to action: Pledge $19 a month by phone or online

The top hospitals spent their ad dollars on Univision (23.61% of industry spend), Comedy Central (7%), Big Ten Network (5.53%), Univision Deportes Network (4.43%) and ABC (4.27%), according to iSpot TV. 

The ads aired on Primer Impacto (11% of Industry Spend), South Park (6%), El Gordo y la Flaca (3%), College Football (2.68%) and Harry (2.16%).

The industry overall spent $15.4 million on 5,437 airings and generated 459 million TV ad impressions. Most viewers were age 35 to 54 (36%) or 55 and older (35%). The audience skewed slightly female (54%). 

Editor's note: FierceHealthcare has partnered with, a real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from 10 million smart TV screens, to bring you a monthly snapshot of the healthcare industry's advertising spending and reach. For more about the company's attention and conversion analytics, visit