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By: Molly Donovan on February 7th, 2020

Show Spotlight: Cleveland Clinic’s Butts & Guts

Every Friday on Marketing Showrunners, the staff picks one branded podcast or video show to profile for inspiration and insights, pulled from our popular post, The World’s Biggest List of Branded Shows. Here’s this week’s Show Spotlight…

There’s one show on the World’s Biggest List of Branded Shows that always catches my eye…but which I’ve been equally reticent to check out.

See, the slightly shocking, definitely smile-provoking rhyme of Butts & Guts from the Cleveland Clinic never fails to stop my scrolling in its tracks. But I, a certifiable hypochondriac, can’t typically muster the courage to take a listen. 

I did, though, in the service of this blog series (you’re welcome). And I’m glad I did, because Butts & Guts is neither as funny nor as scary as I first thought. It’s mostly a helpful layperson’s guide to digestive health, made accessible by the team at the Cleveland Clinic.

So…is Butts & Guts a good show? We’re breaking it down today.

What it is

Hosted by Scott Steele, Cleveland Clinic’s Colorectal Surgery Chairman, Butts & Guts explores “your digestive and surgical health from end to end.” (Get it?) Despite the cheeky title, the show itself is devoid of gimmicks. It features various experts from within Cleveland Clinic’s network discussing various digestive health issues, from pancreatitis to appendicitis to Celiac disease. Each episode is a conversation between scientists presented in accessible language for the average patient: the host and guest discuss common symptoms of various diseases, treatment options, survival rates, and more. These facts and figures are packaged into a non-overwhelming 15-20 minute episode, which comes out every other week.

Who it’s for

This is a podcast for the average patient or potential patient, who wants to understand more about their digestive health without having to sift through dense scientific research and medical jargon. 

I thought it would definitively not be for hypochondriacs, but I found that’s not entirely true; there’s something soothing and empowering about the information Dr. Steele and his colleagues present.

Why it works

1. The Name

Would I choose to listen to a show titled “A Cleveland Clinic Digestive Health Podcast?” Probably definitely not. Would I even register that title on a long list, or would I keep on scrolling without ever noticing it? Probably definitely the latter. 

As far as names go, Butts & Guts is both shocking and funny, kind of gross and kind of mad-sciencey-feeling. It’s immediately compelling — which, when you consider the subject matter, is quite a feat.

2. The episode titles

Cleveland Clinic makes it easy to jump around by providing an a la carte menu of easily-digestible topics. Their titles make the information contained within seem accessible: they promise “Everything you need to know about abdominal pain” or “All about Celiac disease.” Once you register the relatively short timestamp, you might agree that these titles convey the sense that the doctors on the show will share the most salient information with their listeners — not bog them down with unnecessary or unparseable details. 

3. The tone

It would be very easy for some of the foremost experts on these medical topics to lose the accessible, understandable tone the show’s name and titles promote. They don’t, though — and that makes the show much more enjoyable for the average non-medical person who might want to learn more about a certain ailment or feel more in control of their health. The show sometimes feels like you’re sitting in an exam room with an incredibly patient, particularly loquacious doctor, who cares enough about you to take the time to explain how the body works with care and attention. It makes for an easy, oddly calming listen. That’s particularly impressive when you consider how dense or unaccessible a show exclusively featuring medical specialists could feel.

And one thing I can’t quite wrap my head around…

I have one sticking point with Butts & Guts: for whom is this show their favorite? I can envision someone listening to a select few episodes, chosen based on their own health issues and interests, but I can’t ascertain who would be downloading this show and listening to it religiously. Because it’s so accessible and simplified, it doesn’t seem to be geared toward aspiring gastroenterologists — no, it’s squarely for non-medical people. So who, aside from particularly devoted hypochondriacs, is listening episode after episode? 

Hear an episode of the show below:



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A somewhat accidental marketer, I’m first and foremost a writer. I’ve spent a decade working with global brands to craft on-target content and streamline complex ideas into clear (and even…exciting?!) language. Now, I get to spend every day immersed in content and strategy here, as Managing Editor of Marketing Showrunners, at my company, Molly Donovan Content & Communications. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community of eager next-generation marketers and marketing showrunners.

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