Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February, countless organizations and companies have issued statements of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. But five months into the conflict, war fatigue began to set in.
Like many healthcare-focused organizations, HCB Health wanted to bring attention to the conflict and support the millions affected by it. But the agency hoped to do so in a way that didn’t echo the myriad of “stand up with Ukraine” hashtags.
Instead, he chose to highlight the nation’s frontline healthcare workers. In partnership with Ukrainian agency Provid, HCB Health launched a campaign to raise funds for healthcare workers in the war zone.
“We are inundated with bombs, buildings destroyed and people killed, all these horrible things about this war,” HCB CEO and Founder Kerry Hilton explained. “So we wanted to have an impact that would be different. We thought of the other warriors on the front lines of this war – the healthcare workers, the doctors, the people saving lives while lives are being destroyed.
The effort doubles as a fundraising option. “Not everyone wants to donate money for more bombs, more planes, or more bullets, but people will support a cause to save lives,” Hilton added.
To ensure the effectiveness and authenticity of the campaign, HCB enlisted Provid’s Managing Director, Yuri Duma, and Creative Director, Vlad Galyapa, to better understand the needs of Ukrainians. Zooming in from their apartments in Kyiv, Duma and Galyapa offered insight into which approaches would benefit Ukrainians the most.
The first takeaway was that healthcare workers were being neglected, according to Francesco Lucarelli, HCB’s creative director. Another, Duma and Galyapa pointed out, was that the effort should not feature additional gruesome footage of killed civilians.
“As we started developing the creative, they shared the idea that they didn’t want to continue showing stark, macabre, drastic imagery,” Lucatelli said. “They were like, ‘This is not a positive thing. We want to deal with this in a much more factual way and weed out the gory and shocking elements.
The HCB/Provid team hoped to present real stories of frontline healthcare workers – who ultimately inspired the central idea of Ukraine’s current “regular” circumstances.
“We want people to donate to help Ukrainian doctors continue to perform their regular duties under these circumstances,” Hilton said. “‘Warregular’ means that things that were once very irregular are now becoming more common in this warzone.”
They opted to go the route of digital billboards, adorned with messages such as “under rocket fire, a young doctor helped a woman on a city street”. A QR code directed people to the Ukrainian Freedom Fund.
The billboards have been translated into a variety of languages and are displayed in cities around the world, including Kyiv, Belfast, Dublin, Glasgow, Florence, Venice and Milan. The campaign has recently expanded to locations across Canada.
Digital billboards are just the start, with the campaign likely to expand into the video realm before too long.
“There are other stories we want to tell,” Hilton said. “By bringing this to market, we think more stories will come up. It’s a challenge to do something like this in a warzone, so we’re looking for other talented and creative people who are willing to help us develop these stories.