Nurses Receiving Lame Gifts Has Become a Meme. This Campaign Wants to Change That

Mischief crafts a swap program with connectRN

Nurses who work grueling hours and selflessly perform life-saving services every day, often under intense pressure and at considerable risk to themselves, would hugely appreciate goofy novelty gifts to thank them for all they do.

Right? Of course not.

Pet rocks that proclaim "Nurses rock" and Play-Doh (encouraging them to play as hard as they work) are crappy presents indeed. But that's the kind stuff employers often bestow on RNs during National Nurses Week, which begins today. The practice is so prevalent, it's even become a meme.

This year, however, healthcare staffing platform connectRN wrote a prescription to help nurses vent their frustration and exchange lame presents for quality merch.

connectRN | Coloring Book
connectRN | Lollipop
connectRN | Rock

Developed with creative agency Mischief and PR shop Dini von Mueffling Communications, the initiative invites nurses to share photos of lame swag they've received from their bosses. The first 1,200 to submit will receive gift bags from connectRN packed with snacks, scented candles, herbal teas and mugs (classy mugs, without silly slogans embossed on the side).

"connectRN is on a mission to help nurses stay in love with nursing. So when they briefed us on a campaign for Nurses Week and we saw some of the patronizing gifts nurses were receiving, we realized there was an opportunity to highlight the lack of appreciation for everything nurses do," Mischief creative directors Rapha Franzini and Rafa Beretta tell Muse.

"We thought, since Nurses Week has become a running joke in the nursing community, what if we get in on the joke, and use those lame rocks and childish coloring books to cut through the noise of empty appreciation messages," the creatives say. "We want to actually make them feel appreciated this week. Our goal is that we don't need to repeat this campaign next year."

According to connectRN, 83 percent of nurses feel under-recognized for their work, while 63 percent feel they aren't seen as "human" by patients and doctors. That's pretty startling, given the kind of delicate, difficult tasks they perform as a matter of course.

"Our nurses need to be seen, heard and valued. Not for just one week in May, but every day," says connectRN CMO Jen Reddy. "If you think about what they have endured over the past two years, and how that has impacted their lives and mental health, does it make sense to give them pizza and T-shirts?"

Click to see examples of the connectRN gifts here:

At the height of the pandemic, brands feted nurses in comic books and concerts. A-list athletes proclaimed them true heroes, while Cox Communications helped RNs enjoy home cooking when they couldn't visit family and friends.

Of late, such tributes have waned. Nurses have become so despondent, more than 50 percent plan to leave the profession, connectRN says. Clearly, that's bad for the company's business. More importantly, it's an achingly sad commentary on how we take such vital professionals for granted.

"We believe strongly in supporting nurses, whether they work with us or not—in a holistic way," Reddy says. "They are on the front line of our healthcare system, and how we show up for them is critical."

She adds: "This campaign is not just for nurses, but for society as a whole, to make them consider what nurses go through and be more supportive."


Client: connectRN
Chief Executive Officer - Ted Jeanloz
Chief Marketing Officer - Jen Reddy
Director of Brand Marketing - Jessica Newton
Head of Content - Nick Iuliano
Digital Marketing Manager - Shannon Cullen

Agency: Mischief @ No Fixed Address
Co-Founder & CCO - Greg Hahn
Partner and Executive Creative Director - Bianca Guimaraes
Partner and Executive Creative Director - Kevin Mulroy
Creative Director - Raphael Franzini
Creative Director - Rafael Beretta Calvo
Jr. Designer - Sabrina Saccente
EVP Production - Will Dempster
Integrated Producer - Danielle Balanov
Editor - Kevin Tian
Partner & President - Kerry McKibbin
Group Account Director - Alison Whisenant
Account Director - Nicole de Ravel
Head of Strategy - Jeff McCrory
Strategy Lead - Nimisha Jain
Senior Strategist - Katharina Vivan
Senior Print Producer - Sheila Jacklin
Senior Production Artist - Gavin Gillespie
VP, Communications Planning & Media, NA - Kristie Lee
Planner - Anya Lomako
Director of Media Investments & Platform Operations - Dan Whip
Partner & Head of Development - Oliver McAteer
EVP, GM, Products & Platforms - Ivana Musich
Director of Delivery - Annekatrin Mueller
UX Architect - Trevor Shaikin
ACD, Digital - Christina Pinto
VP, Technology - Radek Zajkowski
Front End Developer - Jonathan Sanford
Front End Developer - Adam Kendal
Analytics Lead - Lara Tutton
Marketing Analyst - Alisha Tran

Production Company: Sequoia
Director – Dylan Maranda
Executive Producer – Suzanne Allan
Producer – Katy Maravala
Producer Shadow – Aastta Khajuria
Production Manage – Tony Phibbs
AD – Conor O'Brien
DP – Mack Calistan
1st AC -Max Litzgus
2nd AC- Alex Berceanu
Gaffer- John Mauch
Swing – John Hardan
Grip – Dillon Freel
Production Designer – Christie Greyerbiehl
Props Master – Shauna Eve
Set Dresser- Jemuel Roberts
Hair/Make up – Pippa Leavy
Wardrobe – Melissa Shouldice
Production Assistants – Joey Campbell Joe Craib , Callum Sheedy

Cycle Media
Colorist: Sam Gilling
Online/Finishing: Peter Debay

Record & Mix:
Grayson Music
Audio Director  - Ryan Kondrat
Sound Engineer - Chris Masson
Exec Producer - Kelly McCluskey

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