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Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland COVID-19 Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has touched us all. But for our charity partner, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Border (MSF) it presents a unique, global challenge.

The Challenge

The high level of supportive and intensive care required by COVID-19 patients has placed a heavy burden on some of the world’s most advanced healthcare systems.  MSF’s teams, who already provide medical assistance to some of the most vulnerable communities globally, are now also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping their vital medical assistance up and running.

In Italy, MSF is supporting four hospitals and in Paris they have set-up activities to help detect and manage COVID-19 cases among the most vulnerable populations in the surrounding region. MSF has also set-up two temporary hospitals around Madrid to decongest other hospitals.

All of this work needs donations from the public, and in the midst of this global crisis we have launched an emergency appeal campaign.

Our Approach

This was not our first emergency campaign for MSF. In the past we have helped them to launch appeals for Rohingya refugees, Cyclone Idai and Yemen. This was, however the first emergency appeal that has affected us in Ireland directly.  It’s also the first time we’ve worked on an emergency appeal while working remotely. We turn around emergency appeals for MSF in 48 hours from brief to air.  Meeting that timeline while working remotely was going to present new challenges, but we were not deterred.


The Execution

Radio is always the first thing on our to-do list for these campaigns. We book studio time, ensure we have a member of MSF staff available to provide VO and edit scripts, all in a day to ensure we can be on air as soon as possible. Having been briefed about the campaign on Monday morning we were in the studio at 08h00 on Tuesday.  Our approach remained the same, we simply had to adapt. Working with Dr Laura Heavey we recorded a compelling direct response radio ad with a project director in the studio and a copywriter directing the session remotely through Microsoft Teams.

As we all know, the restrictions put in place in Ireland to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are evolving quickly. This made the development of our direct mail piece even quicker than normal, to make sure it could be dispatched while post is still being delivered. We created four versions of a direct mail, tailored for different audiences.

Once again Microsoft Teams saved the day. Our usual process of printing proofs and discussing around a table was replaced with art directors and copywriters making changes in chat and reviewing proofs on video calls.

We always create fully integrated campaigns for MSF’s emergency appeals. Social media plays a central role in that. Working with a limited set of assets we created a series of visually arresting, dynamic and informative posts for Facebook and Instagram.  Each piece of content is optimised, encouraging users to donate in a way that feels natural for the platform. Content performance will be regularly reviewed and optimised throughout the campaign.

The Result

In a matter of days we turned around an emergency campaign for our charity partner MSF. Their indomitable spirit in the face of an unprecedented crisis has inspired us to find new ways to support their work.

You can learn more about MSF’s response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and donate on the MSF website.