Podcast: episode 114

Jul 30, 2021

Getting bold ideas across the finish line

Getting bold ideas across the finish line Featuring Cynthia Schmidt of VCU Health

A case for boldness Health system marketing comes with many stakeholders, opinions, and expectations, making it challenging to deliver imaginative and bold campaigns. Despite these challenges, marketers must continue to push on ideas that don’t just “check the boxes” but truly influence behavior in a way that improves public health. The campaign that pushed the…

A case for boldness

  • Health system marketing comes with many stakeholders, opinions, and expectations, making it challenging to deliver imaginative and bold campaigns.
  • Despite these challenges, marketers must continue to push on ideas that don’t just “check the boxes” but truly influence behavior in a way that improves public health.

The campaign that pushed the envelope

  • During the pandemic, health systems and hospitals across the country promoted COVID-19 vaccination within their communities. A literal life or death situation, VCU Health knew they would need something more than a safe, traditional campaign.
  • To increase vaccine uptake in Virginia, VCU Health honed in on Virginian pride and the unique stories that make the people of Virginia.
  • Younger populations in Virginia were vaccinating at lower rates than other populations, so VCU Health’s messaging needed to address these people directly rather than using broad messaging. From this direction, a provocative direction was born: This Sh*t Matters.

Clearing the “buy-in” hurdle

  • To bring this bold idea to life, the VCU Health marketing team needed to build a strong case internally for the campaign and why the provocative approach was necessary to drive impact.
  • The team bolstered their argument by testing the work in-market, collecting feedback from legislators, and collaborating with clinical experts.
  • Cynthia credits VCU Health’s position as a challenger brand and the system’s forward-thinking leadership for getting this game-changing idea across the finish line.

Bolder campaign, bolder results

  • The campaign plan originally included three to four stories from Virginians. After a short stint in the market, however, more and more people came to VCU health to share their stories. The result: 15+ stories told by community members who knew their audience’s context. The campaign also received coverage from several local news stations.