Case study - VCU Health

Push beyond the comfortable

With thousands of lives lost and more on the line, COVID-19 vaccines aren’t just a nice-to-have but an utter necessity. Yet, an abundance of misinformation and generic public health messaging diluted this truth. Even as vaccination rates progressed Virginia’s leading academic medical system, VCU Health, saw an alarming trend emerge: an increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for certain demographics.

Revive conducted research to identify the root of the problem, finding that there were specific sub-segments of Virginians who were less likely to get the COVID-19 vaccination, specifically Black, Hispanic, rural, women, and younger Virginians.

With a monster of a societal issue to conquer, Revive partnered with VCU Health to develop a bold campaign that would not only capture the attention of those Virginians communities, but also relate to them in meaningful way.

Cutting through the BS

To convince resistant Virginians to vaccinate, VCU Health had to push beyond the comfortable and build a frank, provocative, ethos-inspired campaign that could speak to the people of Virginia. To make an impact the campaign couldn’t just take the traditional “speak-from-the-podium” approach. It had to elevate the voices of the community using their language – real, down-to-earth language that would resonate. How? By intentionally riffing off of the profanity-based phrase, “this sh*t matters.”  

Revive and VCU Health united the diverse voices of Virginia – the soulful musicians, heartfelt activists, the avid sports fans – to highlight all the things they were missing amidst the pandemic, those activities which we could return to sooner with more people vaccinated. Baseball games matter. Time with family matters. Live music matters. This Sh💛t Matters.  

VCU Health couldn’t just showcase the community’s voices, they had to make them visible to the right audiences – those who would identify with this campaign and take action because of it. To make this outcome possible, the campaign used highly-targeted media placements, internal messaging and communications, and extensive activations across paid social, internal, swag, broadcast TV and radio, rich media and display, and programmatic digital out-of-home.  

Bold campaigns take guts 

With the University’s president and the health system’s CEO behind the campaign, This Sh💛t Matters became much more than a marketing effort. It became a representation of how VCU Health wanted to show up in the community – boldly for the people and their health.  

They always say – high risk, high reward. And in the three months the “This Sh💛t matters” campaign was in-market, VCU Health helped drive the following results: 

  • 10,000+ web page views  
  • A 27% increase in system awareness 
  • A 10% decline in reported vaccine hesitancy  

Not only did the campaign produce quantifiable results, it also represented a number of firsts for VCU Health – its first TikTok campaign and its first influencer campaign. All in the name of better – courageous – health system marketing.