The Deconstructed Brief

Tiniest Listing

tiniest listing

Brand: Cook County Health & Hospital System – Cook County Health Foundation
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Chicago


One in 10 babies in Chicago are born prematurely. John H. Stoger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County operates the highest level neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Illinois, and it sees almost 400 premature babies every year. The average length of stay for a newborn amounts to 21 nights each — at $4,000 a night. Total costs can reach $84,000. Medicaid covers the vast majority (90%) of babies staying in this NICU, placing a portion of the full cost of treatment on the hospital; however, Stoger Hospital commits to providing space for babies, regardless of parents’ ability to pay.  Donations play a vital role in the hospital’s ability to fulfill this commitment to care by supplementing the millions of dollars in uncompensated services.


Ogilvy & Mather Chicago created the first real estate listing inside an incubator. “The Tiniest Listing” details incubators’ lifesaving amenities in the style of a traditional apartment listing in local newspapers and on popular real estate websites, such as Craigslist and The campaign’s website allows visitors to rent a room for a baby in need by donating the cost of their stay (night, hour or minute). Local news channels, such as ABC7, featured the campaign.

Americans believe in charitable causes. The vast majority (83%) of Americans under 34, and almost three-fourths (62%) of Americans older than 34, believe that if the nation volunteered more money to charitable organizations, it would make life better. Health care concerns — both for basic services and the treatment and development of cures for disease — top the priority list of social challenges donors see as most important. Ogilvy & Mather Chicago used “The Tiniest Listing” to transform that belief into action and to place the Foundation in front of and illicit donations from a new audience.

Key insight

Lifesaving medicine for rent

What they told Adweek:

“Just by donations, that’s the way that we can continue to do what we do and have the resources we need to care for these babies — to grow, to thrive and to be able to go home and be with their mothers,” said the hospital in a statement.

Lessons to be learned:

  • Check your stereotypes. — Renters defy common perceptions that they are all young and minority and have low income; ignoring this population based on stereotypes would eliminate 39 million potential donors. The harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that over half of all renters are older than 40 and maintain a comfortable economic status: 10 million renters sit in the top half of the income distribution, and 3.8 million exist in the top quarter.

    Both of these factors retain a positive correlation with philanthropic donations. As incomes rise, so do the number of people giving and the size of their gifts. Over 70 percent of those in the top half of the income distribution donate to charity, and almost all (93%) of those in the top quarter make contributions, according to a report from Fidelity Charitable.
  • Transform the product. — Ogilvy & Mather reimagined incubators as real estate to increase its audience. Key donors and industry insiders already understand the need for donations; however, posting the listing as an apartment on key real estate sites gives the campaign access to a new demographic of individual donors. Personal philanthropy (individual donors) accounts for the majority (87%) of philanthropic giving and served as the source of over $324.5 billion in donations last year. 

    Other agencies have been pushing consumers to rethink the world around them. Concentrated efforts to turn heads has helped these campaigns to garner significant publicity and notoriety in both consumer spaces and agency publications. 

  • Act like it’s the real deal. — The apartment listings placed in local newspapers and online services appear true to form. Each individual advertisement reflects the medium of choice. For example, reads, “1 bedroom, single-family home – University Village – $4,000.” The ruse only becomes apparent after viewers follow the link to the donation site.

    Presenting a campaign under a ruse and misdirecting consumers can serve as a powerful tactic to garner additional observers and connect with a new audience.