The #InMyScrubs campaign started in the simplest way possible: a text message thread among friends.

“When COVID-19 hit, we were trying to find ways to get involved and support our local New York community,” says Kaitlyn Barclay, who founded the campaign.

At its core, the goal of the campaign was to spread awareness about social distancing and support local healthcare providers. But soon after its creation, it became apparent that #InMyScrubs had the potential to get other parties involved, like local restaurants.

To participate in #InMyScrubs, social media users were encouraged to donate to the campaign’s GoFundMe for hospital workers, while also popularizing the act of staying home by posting a photo of themselves in comfortable clothing—their “scrubs.” Users were encouraged to challenge their friends to also donate and post. After a few weeks of funds rolling in from audiences, the campaign’s founders discovered a way to give their idea an even larger impact; they used the money to partner with local restaurants through DoorDash’s Food Without Borders program and provide free meals to hospital staff.

This three-pronged approach enabled #InMyScrubs to touch various audiences. QSR spoke with Barclay and #InMyScrubs marketing leader Ashlee Simpson about taking a social media campaign from a text message to a wide-reaching reality.

Allow audiences to choose how they get involved

One of the unique facets of #InMyScrubs was the opportunity it gave social media users.

“The campaign enabled people to participate through whatever activism they had available,” Barclay says. “We understood that not everyone can donate money during this time, but people can still support what’s going on in hospitals and spread awareness about social distancing by posting.”

To further the idea of staying home as much as possible, guests could post a photo of themselves in pajamas or athleisure and challenge friends to join in at no cost. To take their involvement a step further they could donate. As a result of this flexibility, both categories of involvement showed successful numbers; in under a month, the campaign earned around 30 million impressions and brought in $115,000, which resulted in the delivery of around 11,000 meals to 24 hospitals around New York and New Jersey.

Behind successful campaigns are, oftentimes, several talented partners

Barclay, Simpson, and a majority of the initiative’s other organizers work at various restaurant and hospitality marketing firms in New York, and this expertise helped ensure #InMyScrubs’ success.

“We all launch brand campaigns all the time, so we broke down the DNA of an effective brand campaign and applied it to this charitable effort,” Barclay says.

The #InMyScrubs team initially attempted to locate its own restaurant partners to feed hospital personnel, seeking out smaller concepts that would benefit from some added revenue (on average, around $2,000 extra per month).

But, within a few weeks, the team discovered DoorDash’s Food Without Borders program. Through Food Without Borders, which focuses on restaurants owned by refugees and immigrants, the initiative was able to locate diverse, local partners more quickly. Thanks in part to its use of the DoorDash program, #InMyScrubs was able to partner with more than 25 local restaurants, including fast casuals like The Little Beet.

“So much of our success was having really smart, professional partners,” Simpson says.

In building a successful strategy, determine your top priority

Key in the #InMyScrubs strategy was determining which aspect of the campaign was most important. The founders realized that the campaign wouldn’t take off without a clear channel for involvement. So audiences were challenged to a fun, simple task: posting a photo of themselves at home, in comfy clothing.

Social media users jumped at the chance to take meaningful action for a cause in such a simple way. In fact, the popularity of the #InMyScrubs idea was so great that it inspired its founders further; they are now working on putting together a campaign that mirrors the mechanics of #InMyScrubs and provides meals to food-insecure communities. “Right now, we’re looking for ways to connect and stand together in nonpartisan ways,” Simpson says. “It’s rare we can come together and make an impact. Our goal is not just to help others, but to build a connection.”

Charitable Giving, Marketing & Promotions, Story