News & Events

Meet The Toughlings

Tufts Medical Center introduces next phase of marketing campaign

In 2015, we launched a fresh new marketing campaign for Tufts Medical Center. The central message of the campaign—You Don’t Have to Be Big to Be Strong— speaks volumes about our patients’ strength and our staff’s commitment. We introduced this message through a powerful video and social media. We also began to brighten our physical spaces by installing messages from the video in the elevator banks, wrapping our MRI trailer with photos of our patients and hanging posters to proudly reinforce our message.

“No matter what mood I’m in, whenever I see those kids’ faces on the trailer, some of whom I know, it changes my mood to a good one,” said Sandra Pelton, Senior Clinic Coordinator in the Center for Children with Special Needs.

Joyful, inspirational messages are also key components of the campaign. 

Enter The Toughlings—a group of characters created to remind kids, “You Don’t Have to Be Big to Be Strong.”

Who are The Toughlings?

The Toughlings are a group of five small-but-mighty animals with strengths much greater than their size would suggest. They were created exclusively for Tufts Medical Center by the artists behind the popular children’s book series and television program, The Octonauts™.

The five animals include: Sage, a wise owl; Mica, a resilient ant; Buff, a loyal badger; Elbo, an adaptable octopus; and Cozi, a cheerful turtle.

The Toughlings’ job is to brighten our physical spaces, make them more child-centric and remind kids getting their care here of their inner strength. When children come across a Toughling, it gives them encouragement that they will be able to handle anything that comes their way.

“We’re finding that not only do patients identify with one or more of these animals, but so do staff,” said Manager of Public Affairs and Communications for Tufts Medical Center Laura Pierce. “People are excited about the changes and there already have been requests to use The Toughlings in other ways to support the campaign.”

If These Walls Could Talk

The beautiful habitats in which The Toughlings live (for example, Elbo’s environment is the ocean on the Street Level) can be found in the elevator banks on Tufts Medical Center’s 6th floor, 3rd floor and Street Level. Additional Toughling elevator worlds will be added to the 2nd, 4th and 7th floors.

“The wall designs in Tufts Medical Center are fabulous,” said PICU Nurse Joli Omara, RN. “They are invigorating, fun, cheerful and have generated a lot of positive attention.”

Which Toughling Are You? Find Out!

In addition to the facility enhancements, we have created to provide information about The Toughlings and their unique attributes. Patients (or parents and staff) can even take a quiz to find out which Toughling they are.

Child Life is using The Toughlings when working with patients, and soon there will be stickers of The Toughling characters available for patients. There will be many other opportunities in the future to use The Toughlings to make our facilities more engaging and comforting for children.

Building Awareness of Tufts Medical Center

In addition to this internal work, we will embark on a larger, external marketing campaign this year, which includes infusing The Toughlings look and feel into the website and integrating affiliate hospital campaigns into the larger brand message.

Stay tuned for more ways The Toughlings will enhance our spaces and comfort our patients.