Case Studies

Culture Hack Campaign | NewWave

About the Client: NewWave is a globally-recognized, federally-certified provider of innovative business solutions for government and industry.

Users/Audience: NewWave Employees

Project Details: The ‘Be a Good Human’ campaign came to be in response to an internal effort to ‘hack the culture’ of NewWave. The company doubled in size within 4-6 months due to the win of a $196M contract with CMS and was struggling with the influx of so many new employees and the strained atmosphere created a perceived need to be intentional about leading people toward desired behaviors with positive reinforcements. The Culture Hack work group met regularly to identify key areas in which to focus communications and efforts and this campaign was one of the outputs.

My Contribution: As Creative Director, I was invited with my team to participate in this work group in order to help examine the data and feedback provided by staff members about their experiences, and brainstorm what type of communications, programs, rewards, etc. could be helpful in improving the interactions. I co-led user research efforts and analysis of results, led brainstorming and series design. 

It was agreed upon in the workgroup that the BAGH campaign would only be the light-hearted face of the deeper efforts that were going to be made as an organization to change/improve processes, systems, communication breakdowns, etc. that were at the root of many of the employee experience issues. Plans to remedy those issues were simultaneously under way.

We tapped into an existing NewWave mascot, (a friendly, chatbot  named Waverly), that I had previously illustrated for other internal initiatives. Since Waverly was already an HR asset, we just expanded its repertoire into a tongue-in-cheek series of illustrated email ads, digital screen ads, and a club-style rewards program with incentives like t-shirt designs that would be awarded to nominees quarterly. The apparel gifts were going to be short-run, custom designs so they were truly unique gifts, not branded for Waverly, but rather we created totally individual styles in each series that praised the wearer for being a ‘super human’ because their peers had nominated them for their actions. I also oversaw and directed team members’ work as they created additional screen designs, kudos stickers, animated gifs, apparel and custom mug designs.

BAGH Ads & Screen Designs

Outcomes: Unfortunately, while the designs were well-executed visually and technically, their intended audience did not respond as we had hoped. The campaign was kicked off with the incentives program at the same time as an Executive communication went out about employee behavioral guidelines and a commitment to improving interactions. It was required by HR that everyone sign that they agreed to these guidelines. Because the more formal feeling of those requirements was received with annoyance and resistance, the result was that the tone of the BAGH campaign ads were received as being condescending rather than light, and we pulled the campaign after subsequent feedback and metrics indicated more negative reactions.

Every failure comes with things you can learn from and in this case, I think that we as a group erred on the side of pursuing business goals over user needs, in trying to change general employee behavior rather than truly looking inwardly and making change at a more fundamental, leadership level prior to layering on an employee engagement program taking aim at more surface-level issues. 

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