The Hipness of Hand Hygiene

The art of effectively promoting hand hygiene without the cheese for one of Kentucky's premiere health care systems.

"We need a hand hygiene video that's not cheesy, and it needs to have that one Bush song in it."

This is the story of how a simple, yet complicated, request set us down a path of crafting and helping market a brand new hand hygiene public awareness video for University of Kentucky HealthCare. How do you craft a hand hygiene video that's not only effective (one would be frightened to realize how many people go through everyday life without washing their hands) but also... "cool' (that often used yet highly misunderstood qualifier) while using a song that's over 20 years old?

The Bush song in question did not come out of thin air. UK HealthCare's Communications team had already done the heavy lifting of creating the nucleus of the hygiene campaign: the precisely effective slogan of Wash In-Wash Out, as well as its accompanying brand style and logo. Bush's 1995 hit song "Machinehead"  features the lyric 'Breath in, breathe out,' which made itself ripe for this UK HealthCare-specific parody. The hitch? How well known really is this song to general audiences?

Now mind you, the song is pretty well known. It was featured on the soundtrack for one of Mark Walhberg's first films. NFL stadiums play it during commercial breaks, and it's still a modern rock radio mainstay .  The challenge, though, was to make the song not only feel fresh and current but also completely natural to the story of  hand hygiene public awareness at UK HealthCare without feeling dated while remaining firmly in parody territory, i.e. legal.

One would also be suprised at the sheer amount of hand hygiene videos from various health care institutions that exist online. Its an art unto itself. Unfortunately, the art falls more along the lines of b-movie cult classic versus well made content; it makes it harder for the intended audience to take the message seriously even with one as simple as washing hands the correct way.  We needed to make the song fit the new campaign perfectly and be fun without all of the cheese.  Hand Hygiene is one of the first lines of defense for securing patient, visitor, and employee health in a health care system. Leveraging excitement with something fresh can easily get employees to do what you need them to do (wash their hands going into a room and then again as they go out), while humming the song. If you go too far? You become a meme for all the wrong reasons and no one takes the message seriously.

The solution? Go meta and have everything purpose-driven. Make yourself self-aware of how potentially 'goofy' you may be and have fun with it while not detracting from the message. Have a 'hip' doctor introduce the song diegetically (music and sound whose source is from the content's world) through a means of an old boombox and cassette tape (cassettes are back, right?); this naturally gives the song a purpose and reason to feel a part of UK HealthCare in 2018. Label that tape the 'UK HealthCare Mix,' and you have an image that evokes youth culture and nostalgia; more evergreen concepts that help the audience believe in the premise.

Introduce the song in full with an employee washing montage that reinforces the main concept (Wash In-Wash out) and uses simple music video techniques. This broad concept of a music video allowed us to introduce various and seemingly disparate customer aesthetic requests such as first person POV, slow motion, and homages to the opening credits of the TVshow Scrubs into a cohesive whole. Make sure the song is strictly parody and use your esteemed President who totally loves to sing in his car to do vocals for the 'Wash In-Wash Out' parts. Now we're cooking.

One of the intros for the TV show Scrubs, part of the creative influences for the Wash In-Wash Out piece

But how do you conclude? Simply bring it full circle by having a hand washing employee meet our hip doctor. The two concepts are now fully integrated, and you have hand hygiene content that is fun, current, and cool while still having its message clear and unobtruded by total silliness.

The campaign is now official, and the video is live. We're proud of the thought and effort put into this piece for UK HealthCare; we take extra care making sure that purpose-driven craft is instilled into every story we help create, whether its hand hygiene or an emotional testimonial. Hopefully you will be silently (or loudly!) singing 'Wash In-Wash Out' the next time you wash your hands, even if you don't work for UK HealthCare.