Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation: Missing Piece Campaign

tbrhsf-missing-piece-image4-greg-dubeau“What do you do?” It’s a fairly simple question. Most say their job. Butcher. Baker. Candlestick maker. Some recite their existential resume. And the rest test our patience by saying things like, “breath”, “blink” or “think”. Depending on the person you ask, you will more than likely get a varied range or answers.

But what if you asked a company the same question?

“What do you do?” Surely they should be able to answer, right? Because most certainly they wouldn’t exist without some sort of identity, mandate or purpose? Well, what if it isn’t so obvious what your company does? What if your audience knows who you are, but not what you do? It’s an interesting problem to be challenged with. This is the challenge the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation (TBRHSF) faced in the their community. Their brand was recognized, but not understood.


The mission of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation (TBRHSF) is to inspire the people of northwestern Ontario to give generously to enable the advancement of world class healthcare at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Generator was challenged to develop a campaign communicating to the public the purpose of the TBRHSF. It was discovered that people were aware of the TBRHSF; however, the majority of them did not entirely understand their purpose. The most frequently asked questions included, “what is your role at the hospital?” and “where does the money go that’s been fundraised?” We needed to create a way to make the role of the TBRHSF more obvious.

Our goal was to illustrate how the TBRHSF coordinates donation money to stay in the community by purchasing state-of-the-art, life-saving medical equipment.

Our objective was to create emotionally-charged visuals that touch on five areas of medicine practiced at the TBRHSC and ask the community to continue to donate to enable medical advancement in the region.


During the client briefing process, we unanimously agreed that we needed to show the operational medical equipment that has been acquired through donations. Heather Cranston-Lesniewski (Art Director), Aaron Tator (Photographer) and myself conducted five site visits to learn about each piece of medical equipment, included: Hemodialysis Units, Portable Crash Carts, Cath Lab C-Arm, Linear Accelerator Unit and Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Visiting the site and speaking to the doctors, nurses and technologists who use this technology provided excellent insight into how we should establish the look, feel and messaging of the campaign.

From the site visits, Heather and Robin Moss (Copywriter) developed three concepts focussing on the idea of “missing”—if there were not any community donations, then the TBRHSC would not have any state-of-the-art, life-saving medical equipment. We wanted the audience to feel empathy for the individuals undergoing lifesaving medical treatments and procedures.


Our solution: “ghosted” or silhouetted imagery of key pieces of medical equipment being used in multiple lifesaving scenarios. The emotional power of this idea was designed to have the audience question “what if” when viewing the non-permanence of the ghosted medical equipment during critical snapshots in time. To gain this effect we combined emotionally charged photography with technical illustration. The contrasting graphic styles created the response of “something should be there” or “something will be there”.


We kept the messaging simple and direct—“Help fund vital medical equipment. Your life may depend on it. Donate today.” And also added secondary messaging using stat-filled captions, educating the viewer of the heavy usage of each piece of medical equipment.

To maximize audience exposure, vinyl decals were installed on walls and elevators in high traffic areas such as: the cafeteria, emergency room, central lobby entrance and also on mobile blood-work carts traveling throughout the hospital.


Challenging Circumstances.

Conducting the photo shoots was an interesting challenge. Like Frankie says, Be Prepared. During the shoots we were made aware that at any moment the piece of medical equipment we were shooting could be pulled into action. It was incredibly important for everyone involved in the process to be focussed, organized and aware of the time window provided to us.

We conducted five photoshoots. Most of the equipment was mobile and able to shift in and out of position; however, there were two large pieces of equipment, the Linear Accelerator and the Cath Lab C-Arm, that were stationary. This posed a problem because the execution of each composition required one photo containing the medical equipment and a second without. The stationary equipment made the process more laborious because we had to incrementally move, shift and rotate pieces of the equipment by degrees, and then mask and stitch together a final image that was void of any immobile elements.

The elevator door wraps were designed to be split down the middle to accommodate the door’s centre seam. We didn’t allow copy or letterforms to be cut between the seam. All four compositions split perfectly between the doors to allow optimal readability.

The blood-work cart required special attention because it is a functional item that is regularly washed and sterilized. It was important to design a waterproof graphic that fit within the recessed confines of the carts facade, avoiding any chance for the graphic to get caught, picked at or un-adhere during the sterilization process.

And that’s a wrap.

So did we accomplish our goals and objectives? We provided multiple layers of communication to illustrate how the TBRHSF donation money is used to purchase state-of-the-art, life-saving medical equipment—soooo yes! We created engaging imagery that tells multiple stories, but all share a unified goal—soooo yes! I’m happy with the way we approached the problem and executed the solution. It was an excellent team effort. I’m hoping the message and story of these ads will fill in the blanks for the people who question the purpose and objectives of the TBRHSF.

The campaign is long and still in its infancy, so it will be difficult to understand the successes and failures before an adequate amount of time has passed. So until then, I leave you with Angus, the sultry voice of the Missing Piece campaign.

Agency: Generator
Creative Director: Barry Smith RGD
Art Director: Heather Cranston-Lesniewski
Graphic Designer/Illustrator: Greg Dubeau RGD
Photographer: Aaron Tator
Copywriter: Kim Latimer

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