Faces on the Frontline: A Case Study

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BACKGROUNDInova is Northern Virginia’s leading nonprofit healthcare provider, serving more than 2 million patients per year through an integrated network of healthcare facilities. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Inova experienced unprecedented challenges with the surge of patients from the Washington, D.C. area — one of the nation’s “hot spots” for infection rates. 

On the heels of Inova Health Foundation’s successful community outreach-focused Give to the Givers campaign, we next wanted to celebrate, thank, and highlight the hard-working Inova professionals treating patients stricken by the most terrifying global pandemic of our lifetime. This new set of heroes — the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and others working on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis — captured our nation’s attention with numerous stories of long hours and extended shifts, often sequestered from family, facing an uphill battle that can be emotionally draining … yet in spite of everything, these medical professionals soldiered on, doing what they love to do, what they have been trained to do, and what their community needs them to do.

STRATEGIC APPROACH: To celebrate these professionals as men and women, as heroes — and as part of the community they help to serve — MarkeTeam proposed a set of “Hero Cards” to bring these Inova champions to life. These baseball-card style cards come ‘pre-loaded’ with the idea that the person featured is a hero, an exemplar, an icon. By using the cards as a vehicle, we were able to inherit that cultural cachet and intrinsic value, and leverage it to feature this new kind of hero. 

Inspired by reports of frontline healthcare workers in full PPE taping an actual photo of themselves to the outside of their equipment to put patients at ease, the juxtaposition lent itself to a striking image: that there was really a person — a member of your community — underneath all that equipment here to help you. MarkeTeam leveraged that impactful image to feature these healthcare workers on the front of the “Faces on the Frontline” cards both in and out of their PPE, with the reverse mimicking traditional baseball cards with other ‘vital’ stats: area of specialization, education, years practicing at Inova, and a noteworthy personal vignette, truly allowing each card to feature each hero as an individual icon. 

In addition to a set of six hero cards, the mail appeal also featured a compelling image on the outer envelope with a stamp noting that the Faces on the Frontline Hero Cards were enclosed to entice opening; once inside, the emotional letter highlighted the hero aspect throughout, while also reporting back the successes the Inova healthcare workers had achieved to date (2,500 COVID-positive patients discharged + another 6,500 COVID patients treated without admission) to report back the impact of the donor’s support. An ask was made towards the Team Member Compassion Fund, a special fund for Inova workers impacted by a traumatic life event (fire, flood, loss of loved one, etc.) on top of the extraordinary challenges being faced while treating COVID-19 in the community; this was a unique funding goal that aligned perfectly with the theme of the package, and served as a departure from previous COVID-specific appeals towards Inova’s Emergency Preparedness Fund or Emergency Research Fund to incentivize an additional gift from anyone who may have recently given.

Additionally, a dedicated landing page was created that featured the cards — which was linked to and supported via an email campaign — and the cards also had the added benefit of being ready-made for social media, allowing for the campaign to be leveraged cross-channel for even greater impact.

PROGRAM IMPACT: The new Faces mail campaign raised more than $40,000 over the previous year’s effort. Internally, the Hero cards were so popular among staff members that we created a total of five sets for internal use to be distributed throughout the hospitals to boost employee morale, and also provided a digital template to Inova’s HR department so that they could feature individual employees on an ongoing basis.  

Additionally, one of Inova’s corporate sponsors — the Washington Nationals MLB team — latched on to the campaign when Shortstop Trea Turner presented a video featuring the Hero cards during the pre-game broadcast, giving additional media impressions and allowing Inova to reach a wider audience. 

Seeing how well the Faces on the Frontline theme was resonating across the marketplace, Inova’s events team chose to also feature it as their theme for their annual flagship Honors Dinner event (which had to be transitioned to a virtual event due to COVID). MarkeTeam assisted them with the event invitation to ensure consistent messaging of the theme across this channel as well; the virtual event broke all records in both attendance and revenue, grossing more than $1.2 million dollars.

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