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From the 7th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Vanderbilt University Medical Center “Gratitude Tree”

Finalist in Healthcare & Pharma


Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) wanted to create a COVID-safe campaign to engage the Nashville community and for artists to share gratitude and build support for the staff and patients at Vanderbilt Health campuses. VUMC continues to pay homage to its healthcare heroes through innovative new ways and invites the public to do the same. Vanderbilt unveiled the Gratitude Tree, a first-of-its-kind, interactive, digital art installation inside the hospital dedicated to its more than 28,000 doctors, nurses, and staff, while also celebrating the lives saved and honoring those lost in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. 

Strategy and Execution

FlyteVu worked with Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) to share the Nashville community’s support and gratitude for the nurses, doctors, and staff in a two-part campaign. The first part was to create a digital art installation inside the hospital and dedicate it to the 28,000 doctors, nurses, and staff at VUMC, while also celebrating the lives saved and honoring those lost in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

FlyteVu installed an LED screen within VUMC’s main campus lobby for staff and visitors to see the interactive “Gratitude Tree.” Utilizing a custom microsite,, and interactive technology, VUMC invited community members and individuals from across the country to submit their own notes of gratitude that were then displayed on the living art exhibit for hospital staff. As notes were added through the microsite, they were transformed into leaves on the tree in real time. Staff could see the Gratitude Tree grow inside the hospital every day and could scan the QR on the digital screen to submit their note of gratitude. Individuals who submitted notes received a shareable digital leaf to send to their online community and encourage participation across socials to grow the tree. 

The Gratitude Tree served as an extension of the Gratitunes program, a nationwide platform created in 2020 to thank the medical staff on the frontlines of COVID-19 at VUMC and nationwide. The tree transformed with the time of day - from morning to afternoon, to dusk, to night, the visuals transitioned in color schemes and lighting to reflect the real-world time of day. 

For the second part of the campaign, the art piece and its messages were used to create the ultimate “Gratitune,” a song born from gratitude. FlyteVu secured a partnership with local Nashville singer/songwriters, Mat Kearney and Devon Gilfillian to amplify the art installation. The duo wrote and performed a new song, “Times Like These”, inspired by the notes submitted through the microsite. Using footage from both the song recording and images from the hospital, FlyteVu produced a Gratitude Tree music video released across VUMC's social media platforms for VUMC staff and the general public to enjoy. The song is meant to shine a light on those in the healthcare industry who have bravely endured a strenuous two years during the peak of COVID-19.


The Gratitude Tree was VUMC’s first-ever interactive digital art installation inside their facility. Over the course of four weeks, over 750 notes of gratitude were submitted for the Gratitude Tree from people across the country, specifically from the Nashville community. With hundreds of notes submitted, the exhibit created a collective expression of "Thank You."

To generate awareness for the Gratitude Tree to the public to encourage submissions, FlyteVu secured earned media coverage for the program in local and national publications including The Tennessean and iHeart News. 

The “Times Like This” music video was deemed the top performing video in VUMC’s Facebook history with over 430,000 views.


Video for Vanderbilt University Medical Center “Gratitude Tree”

Entrant Company / Organization Name

FlyteVu, Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Entry Credits