Like many sets of identical twins, Polly and Norah Boynton are often confused for each other. But when Polly's face began appearing in advertisements for a UW Hospital nursing campaign, the amount of local fame the two received was a bit of a surprise.
"I had no idea that we would be recognized so often," Polly Boynton said. "At the beginning of the campaign, it seemed like I couldn't go a day without someone saying, Are you the nurse from the commercial?' "
Boynton works as an Organ Procurement Coordinator at UW Hospital and was pictured in a year-long nursing campaign that ended in February. She was featured in newspaper advertisements, billboards and also a 30-second TV spot.
When the campaign began running and Polly's photos began circulating, co-workers and others in the community started to recognize her. Polly said her co-workers, in a good-natured jab, stuffed leaflets with pictures of her into her locker at the hospital.
"Polly was a really great model," said UW Health public affairs consultant Renae Buchheim.
Buchheim said she received a number of comments from the community about Boynton. She said some community members said that the public relations workers had "picked the right nurse" for the campaign because she is "so great."
According to Buchheim, one man left a message on the voice mail: "Just calling to comment on the ad ... in the Wisconsin State Journal. I recognize the nurse in the picture. Her name is Polly and she works in the UW Hospital ER. I think you made a really wise choice by having her in your ad. She was a superb nurse when I was hospitalized and brought to the Emergency Room and I appreciated everything she did. So, again, thanks for picking a very appropriate person."
A nurse at a different Madison hospital tearfully stated that she was extremely happy with the advertisements run by UW, and left this message: "I just want to thank you so much, it was really a very inspiring ad. I think you're doing a good thing for your nurses. What a good organization to appreciate the care that nurses give."
Norah Boynton, a social worker in Madison, also found herself meeting admirers. Once, a woman approached her at the gym who had clipped the ad with Polly's picture and had given it to her daughter, who is in nursing school.
"She said, I have to tell you that you are an inspiration,' " Norah Boynton said.
What was it that caught the fancy of so many? "The ad put a human face to nursing," Boynton said.
Another secret to the ad's success may have been serendipitous. Boynton said that on the day of the shoot, she had ridden her bike in, and her hair was messy. She was concerned about her appearance, and was told, "Oh, no, that's perfect. We want you to look like you finished a long day."
Boynton said that feedback about the ad made her feel appreciated for what she and other nurses do every day.
"It gave me a good feeling to know people noticed the ad and had the initiative to approach me and either thank me, tell me a story about their loved one that was cared for by a nurse," she said.
Boynton said she enjoyed her modeling experience, which she did on a volunteer basis. She was recommended for the campaign by one of her managers and, after an interview, she was selected for the photo portion. Buchheim said the hospital worked with an agency to interview approximately 30 nurses. Eight were selected to be in the campaign, including Boynton.
Boynton also was involved with a TV spot for the campaign. The ad's director was John Roach, who was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay for his film, "The Straight Story."
Norah and Polly Boynton are from Alma Center and both attended UW-Madison. They remained in close contact during their undergraduate careers. Polly Boynton said her twin helped raise her 7-year-old son, Ethan.
While she really enjoys her job as an organ procurement coordinator, Boynton said she loved working in the emergency room and hopes to return.
As for the confusion -- well, it may never end, ad campaign or no ad campaign.
"We get confused all the time," Norah Boynton said. "It's a daily occurrence."