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What’s so funny about giving birth? Watch what happens when it unfolds on ‘Miami time’

Jackson-Plantain Maternity Ward Commercial

Satirical Miami site, The Plantain, filmed a commercial for Jackson Health System's maternity ward.
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Satirical Miami site, The Plantain, filmed a commercial for Jackson Health System's maternity ward.

In a new video ad to promote Jackson Memorial Hospital’s renovated maternity ward, an expectant couple goes through some of the stages one would expect to see in a — face it, boring — hospital commercial:

Mom’s got labor pains. The baby’s overdue. Dad’s nervous and hungry. Mom’s mad. Baby’s born. The new family and nurses rejoice at the happy birth.

But that’s not all that Jackson Health System, the network of Miami-Dade public hospitals and the primary trauma center, had in mind for its commercial.

So the hospital partnered with the Miami satirical website the Plantain — think The Onion, which often spoofs nationwide politics, but with a decided South Florida flavor. The result is something decidedly different for a serious hospital chain.

Baby’s on ‘Miami time’

In this 2-1/2- minute spot, when the baby’s late it’s time for mom and dad and nurse to get creative to coax the newborn out of mom’s uncooperative belly. First, Mom (played by actress-writer Adriana DeGirolami, 31) cries in her hospital bed in frustration: “It seems like you don’t want to come out,” she chastises the reluctant unborn baby.

So Mom, Dad and Nurse (played by Rachel Biderman) bust some “Breakfast Club”-styled aerobic moves in Jackson’s hallways.

The ad’s catchphrase: “Whether your baby is on time ... or on Miami time ... We got you!”

What? Jackson. Really?

Yes. Really. All involved say they hope this is just the start of an ongoing partnership.

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Actors Adriana DeGirolami and Nick Ducassi portray an expectant couple in a still from the The Plantain’s commercial spot for Jackson Health System’s maternity ward in Miami. Chris Beier

Branding partnership

“When you think of healthcare in our community, Jackson is Miami. The Plantain is brilliant at helping South Florida laugh at itself, so partnering with them in creating this video was a natural fit,” said Jennifer Piedra, senior director of communications for Jackson Health System.

“Is this the traditional way that hospitals have marketed their services? The answer is no. Jackson is famous around the world for its healthcare innovation – we don’t think our story-telling should be any different,” Piedra said.

“While the video is intentionally exaggerated, for new parents, or people who are thinking of starting a family, it is relatable and memorable. It is a way for us to connect with a different audience — one that’s ready to start a family but might not connect with traditional brand messaging,” she said.

Real-life couple

Enter the Plantain and actors Nick Ducassi, as the Dad, and his real-life fiance, DeGirolami, who is on FX’s “Snowfall” and was in “Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit” in 2017.

The couple lives in Los Angeles.

“The folks at Jackson were fans of our articles and approached us to see if we wanted to create a video for them advertising their new maternity suites. It was the first time we ever considered creating branded content,” said Justin Wales, founder and editor of the Plantain.

Wales, whose satirical site once wrote an article about the Miami Herald dropping vowels to cut costs, was initially as jittery as the ad’s expectant parents.

“I was nervous at first,” Wales said, “but I just had my first child so the opportunity of using that experience to create something funny was one I couldn’t pass up. I immediately called my two most talented friends, Nick and Adri, to see if they could help.”

They could.

Mutual fan base

“I’ve been a fan of The Plantain for some time. Miami, my hometown, is a city in ripe need of a good roasting, and Justin is a barbecue chef,” Ducassi said.

Ducassi, DeGirolami and Wales had previously worked together on a sketch for the election called “Abuela Votes” about a young Cuban-American and his grandmother’s election day traditions. Wales, 33, had started a youth-oriented political engagement group called Engage Miami to get young adults more educated about local issues.

The Miami-born Ducassi, a first-generation Cuban-American, was on seven episodes of the digital series “Docket 32357” in 2017.

“We’ve been friends ever since, so when Jackson reached out to the Plantain, he called us afterwards and we started brainstorming,” said Ducassi, the 31-year-old son of Miami Herald metro editor Jay Ducassi.

The end result seems to have pleased everyone — from its creators to the corporate bean counters at Jackson. The ad, posted to Facebook about a week ago, has generated almost 50,000 views and more than 1,000 engagements as of Wednesday, Piedra said.

“This exceeded our expectations. This was an opportunity for us to try a new approach at branded video content — and we’re very pleased with the current results – while promoting our newly remodeled maternity unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital.,” Piedra said.

Says Nick Ducassi: “I thought it was a great idea. I imagine it’s tough for any hospital to differentiate itself in advertisements, and hospital ads tend to all look pretty similar. Dramatic shots of doctors performing surgeries, close-ups of families relieved to hear good news, b-roll of medical equipment and the facilities, etc. So we thought the idea of a hospital — especially one as gigantic and historic as Jackson — embracing comedy was brilliant and we welcomed the challenge.”

The video was filmed at the hospital’s renovated Little Miracles Maternity Suites.

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A comedic scene from the The Plantain’s commercial spot for Jackson Health System’s maternity ward in Miami. The nurse, played by Rachel Biderman, sneaks a pastelito to nervous dad, played by Nick Ducassi. Chris Beier

Creating content

Both parties — the Plantain and Jackson — worked closely together on the content, talking through the concept and the script and checking out early drafts of the video. Piedra and Wales both say creative control was primarily in the hands of the satirists.

Though, naturally, Jackson had final approval.

“Our team is good at making ourselves laugh,” Piedra said. “We look forward to continuing to build upon the relationship with the Plantain.”

Wales, who founded the Plantain in 2016, “as a way of highlighting the ridiculousness of life in Miami,” said Jackson was “pretty hands-off” during the creative process.

And Miami, the city proper, may have upstaged everyone.

“From our perspective, we wanted to create something that thread the needle between funny and heartwarming, something specifically Miami — thus the ‘Miami time’ reference and the pastelito — and something that connected to viewers on a human level in a way that they just had to share it,” Ducassi said.

“Needless to say, it worked!”

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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