Tag: campaign critique

Using Facebook for A Good Cause

Facebook is now encouraging their 161 million users in the United States to utilize their Facebook page for more than creating status updates, posting pictures of their lunch/baby/cat/vacation, stalking their ex’s and keeping up with the latest in the news. Now, members can use the social media site to make advances in public health. On May 1, 2013 Facebook, led by founder Mark Zuckerberg, launched an initiative encouraging their users to register to be organ donors on their own Facebook page.

The tool, which appears on user’s timelines, allows people to click on an  ‘I decided to be an organ donor’ link, indicate the state and country that they live in, and even add a story about why they chose to become a donor. Additionally, a Facebook user will see a ‘Share Your Donor Status’ link when a friend’s donor update hits their news feed. The Facebook page also includes links to Donate Life America for people to become official donors. This is important as going through an online state registry means signing a legal agreement, unlike the Facebook pledge.

Facebook has not historically officially partnered with major public health initiatives, but this move could mark the dawn of a new era for the social media giant who is laden with self-reported data that could be invaluable to the public health community. The concept is based on the idea that sharing your organ donor status online will remind others to sign up, who will in turn encourage their friends to do the same. It’s a domino-effect method of promoting organ donation.

And the best part of this initiative? Early reports indicate that it is working. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the Living Legacy Foundation and Donate Life America who studied the site’s rollout, on the first day of the initiative there were 13,012 new online donor registrations across the 44 states the study authors analyzed–that’s a 21.2-fold increase over the usual daily registration of 616. The total number of new registrations during the study period reached nearly 40,000.

Finding more organ donors is crucial. According to OrganDonor.gov, more than 118,000 people in the United States are currently awaiting organ donations; 18 of them die every day because they did not receive the donation that they needed.

So, what do you think? Will the increased levels of organ donation maintain or lose momentum? What other public health initiatives (if any) should Facebook pursue?

Image Credit: article3

Milwaukee’s Anti-“Co-Sleeping” Campaign

While implementing fear tactics in advertising to promote or discourage a health behavior can be effective, the strategy seldom comes without controversy. This campaign, launched by the City of Milwaukee, is no exception.

The campaign, designed to discourage parents from “co-sleeping” or sharing a bed with an infant, stirred up national debate. The ads  feature a picture of a baby sleeping in what appears to be an adult bed tucked in next to a large butcher knife and uses the tagline “”Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.” In smaller letters, it says: “Babies can die when sleeping in adult beds. Always put your baby to sleep on his back, in a crib. If you can’t afford a crib, call (414) 286-8620.” The phone number connects callers with the city Health Department’s “Cribs for Kids” program, which provides needy Milwaukee families with a free Pack ‘n Plays.

The goal of the campaign, as stated by the city Mayor and Health Commission, is to reduce the city’s African-American infant mortality rate by 15% by 2017. Milwaukee has a high rate of infant mortality: nine babies died because of an unsafe sleep environment in 2011 alone.

Co-sleeping is a controversial parenting technique. While many tout the benefits of co-sleeping as being “a safe and warm way to parent babies,” and a practice that is conducive to breast feeding, others question it’s safety and consider it to be potentially dangerous.  Guidelines released by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that parents share a room, but not a bed, with their babies.

So, what do you think? Is this a strategic and creative way to generate buzz and spread the word about an important public health issue, or an offensive campaign that is taking it all too far?


Coca-Cola & Obesity: Combating a Bad Image

According to federal statistics, almost one-in-three Americans are obese, and two-in-three are overweight or obese. Soda companies have taken a lot of blame for the obesity epidemic over the past year. Ad campaigns (“You wouldn’t eat 20 packets of sugar, so why are you drinking it?”), celebrity endorsement drama (Beyonce and Pepsi?) and even a proposed ban on sales of sodas over 16oz (which almost succeeded in NYC) have all occurred within the past 12 months, tarnishing the image of the soda industry.

Now, the world’s #1 brand, Coca-Cola, is fighting back. In an effort to restore their image, Coke has recently promised to fight obesity by not advertising to children under the age of 12 anywhere in the world, and offering low or no calorie beverage options wherever their drinks are sold. The company also vowed to provide clear nutrition information and calorie counts on all packaging.

To back the campaign, Coca-Cola launched a new website, www.comingtogether.com, which highlights details of the global program and a 60-second version of its Coming Together video. The video encourages the world to “come together” to tackle the obesity epidemic.

This campaign, however, has not come without backlash. In response to Coke’s announcement, the Center for Science in the Public Interest tweeted “Coca-Cola is desperately trying to disassociate itself with obesity. Too bad the core product causes it.” Moreover, many worry about the effect of the campaign on millenials.

To combat the backlash, Coke just this week announced that they would put their money where their mouth is: they pledged $3.8 million to anti-obesity programs in Georgia, Coke’s home state.

So, what do you think? Is this a commendable step by the Coca Cola brand or merely a disingenuous attempt to hide the harsh reality about their core product? Also, how does Coke plan on enforcing this lofty pledge?

Brazilian Modeling Agency Addresses Anorexia

Dove recently re-vamped their Real Beauty campaign with the latest controversial addition: Real Beauty Sketches. Dove, however, is not the only brand to focus on addressing body image issues.

Brazilian modeling agency Star Models recently launched an anti-anorexia campaign with the catchline “You are not a Sketch. Say NO to Anorexia.” The campaign features typical drawings of fashion models—long legs, few curves, unrealistic proportions – and photoshopped images of real models distorted to have the same proportions next to the drawings. The results?  The photos are disturbing, and non-human.

According to the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness, eating disorders affect 70 million individuals worldwide. Moreover, a study from the National Institutes of Health found that up to 3.7% of females will suffer from anorexia in their lifetime. The fashion and modeling industry adds extra pressure to be thin, making members of the industry especially susceptible to the disorder.

Check out the campaign here. What are your thoughts? Are these ads effective or too far-fetched to resonate?

Tackling a Men’s Health Issue

For years, former NFL defensive tackle Tony Siragusa spent his time tackling big things, but now he is tackling something new even for him: light bladder leakage for men.

Tony is the star in the new Depends Guards and Shields “Guard Your Manhood” advertising campaign targeting men experiencing bladder leakage issues. This campaign represents the first time Depends, who is owned by the Kimberly-Clark Corp brand, has used media advertising to discuss light bladder leakage for men, something the company says afflicts 23 million, including one in five men over 60 .The bladder leakage phenomenon in men is far less discussed publicly than the same problem for women despite being a common issue caused by such things as prostate cancer and enlargement, diabetes and being overweight.

Although many contend that using humorous celebrities to promote sensitive health issues is a slippery slope, the celebrity endorsement strategy in this category is not new to Kimberly Clark, who used Whoppi Goldberg in a former Depends ad campaign targeting women with the same issue.

Depends has had the Guards product on the market for years, but without media support, and is launching the smaller Shields as part of the new campaign. Both products have been designed or redesigned “to be more masculine.” The ad also directs men to Guardyourmanhood.com, which has quizzes with tips and links to chat online, get free samples or order from retailer sites.

Although it’s a sensitive subject, the male adult diaper business unit could represent an untapped market for Kimberly Clark — only 20% of men who suffer light bladder leakage use any product for it at all, and many who do so use women’s products. So, what do you think? Happy to see this company taking a stand to speak about a once-quiet issue, or think this is all just another way to make money?


Think you’ve heard it all when it comes to unique and creative health communications campaigns? Think again. The campaign I’m about to tell you about is going to flush your wildest ideas down the drain. In order to promote safe sex and HIV awareness, an Italian non-profit is using a new promotion vehicle: toilet paper rolls. That’s right, toilet paper.

Sieropositivo, an Italian HIV awareness charity, has launched a campaign in the women’s restrooms of trendy nightclubs throughout Rome and Milan. The campaign features the phrase “When you use a public restroom, do you fear diseases? What about when you have sex?” printed on the toilet paper rolls. The sheets of toilet paper also have a QR code leading to a #ThinkToilet site for more safe sex information. According to UNICEF, about 180,000 thousand Italians are living with HIV, and Sieropositivo’s aim is to raise  knowledge of the disease in the country.

While using toilet paper as an advertising vehicle is not unheard of, is taking this tool into the public health realm too much? On one hand, not only is the audience going to be captive—reading the toilet paper in a stall surely beats staring at an empty wall— but studies have akso shown that people use their cell phones while on the toilet, which explains the QR code. In addition, this campaign allows the group to reach an audience that is already out at a nightclub—an environment conducive to people potentially making poor decisions regarding safe sex practices.

So, what do you think? Is this a perfect match for the campaign goals, or could using toilet paper rolls as a message vehicle potentially pollute the message itself?

Celebrities Demand a Gun Control Plan

Artists for Demand a PlanTurn to CNN, FoxNews, or pretty much any other news channel these days and you’ll likely see pundits and experts talking about gun control. Go to demandaplan.org and you’ll hear what a litany of celebrities have to say about it.

More than 800 U.S. mayors and 800,000 grassroots supporters have banded together to create the Demand a Plan to End Gun Violence campaign and the star-studded promotional video, which features Beyoncé, Jon Hamm, Julianne Moore, Jamie Foxx and other famous faces you’re bound to see on the big and small screens.

The website urges visitors to sign a petition that calls for legislation requiring criminal background checks for gun purchasers, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and imposing harsher punishments for gun trafficking. According to the site, the petition will go to President Obama and members of Congress.

This video, as well as the celebrity-rific Draw the Line campaign I wrote about back in October, got me thinking – do celebrity public health endorsements help? According to Time Magazine, which ran an article about this topic in September, the answer is a resounding “maybe.” One expert cautioned against the celebrity endorsements, arguing that they don’t confer long-term benefits and may garner public support for faux causes, such as lose-weight-quick schemes. Another expert, however, asserted that celebrities can draw attention to an issue.

Celebrities aren’t essential to gun control advocacy; a fervent public discourse is well underway without their help. But the gun control measures called for here are relatively uncontroversial (others have also called for an assault weapons ban). This is no quack cause à la an autism-vaccine connection (a myth perpetuated by TV personality Jenny McCarthy). So, the Demand a Plan stars merely act – no pun intended – as a hook into the campaign. If the campaign aims to draw people to its website and incite them to join the gun control cause, highlighting the support of some familiar (and, yes, famous) faces probably doesn’t hurt.


Ugly Holiday Sweaters for a Cause

Capitalizing on the success of “Movember,” nonprofit organization Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) has declared December to be “Ugly Holiday Sweaters for a Cause” month. Participants of this fundraising campaign are asked to decide how many days in December they can stand to wear their ugly holiday sweater(s), then set up a fund-raising page at SU2C.org/ugly; friends and co-workers can donate whatever amount they choose for each of the sweater-wearing days. Or, they can host an ugly-sweater party, inviting friends to wear their tacky sweaters and to donate. The organization says all the funds raised will support Stand Up To Cancer’s research programs.

SU2C is a non-profit program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. According the organization’s website, SU2C “brings together scientists from different disciplines across multiple institutions to collaborate on research that will deliver new therapies to patients quickly and save lives.”

Ugly holiday sweaters have been quite the trend in the past few years, so seeing it embraced for a good cause is a positive move for health communicators. SU2C capitalizes on the tacky trend by using the ugly sweater campaign as their way of saying, “Hey cancer, it’s gonna get ugly.”

So, are you thinking about brushing the mothballs off of that old reindeer, mistletoe and sleigh -filled sweater? Why not do it for a cause? And even if you opt not to subject yourself to silly-sweater-wearing, you can still see whats going on by following SU2C on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #uglysweater.

Does New Anti-Obesity Ad Teach or Shame?

A new anti-obesity ad by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota depicts this scene: two overweight adolescent boys sitting in a fast food restaurant battle over which of their dads can eat the most junk food and speculate the amount they’ll able to eat when they’re grown up. As the dad of one of the boys walks over to the table, he overhears their conversation and shamefully eyes his tray of burgers and fries.

The question many now ask is: does this ad teach parents to set healthy examples for their kids or does it merely shame them? Marc Manley, vice president and chief prevention officer at BCBS Minnesota, told NPR, “Our intent in creating these ads was really just to show good parents having moments of realization that they needed to change their own behavior in order to send the right message to their kid.” On the other side of the debate, Lindy West, a staff writer at the blog Jezebel, wrote an article titled, “It’s Hard Enough to Be a Fat Kid Without the Government Telling You You’re an Epidemic.”

Health communication scholars say that the most successful health messages both describe a threat and explain what people can do to minimize that threat. If we judge the ad according to this standard, it doesn’t seem to hold up. While it illustrates how parents’ poor nutrition habits can trickle down to their children, it doesn’t provide information on how parents can change their unhealthy behaviors – except for the last second of the ad, when these words flash on the screen: Obesity affects us all. Get help at bluecrossmn.com.

So, what do you think – does the ad incite overweight parents to change their behaviors or does it just play the blame game?

Baby holding a cellphone

Better parenting through technology?

A recent article in the Journal of Health Communication sums up a program that’s a private-public partnership aimed at helping new mothers get through the early part of becoming parents.

The program it reviews is called Text4Baby, and it works through an app for a smartphone that provides health tips weekly during pregnancy and the first year of a baby’s life.  The Journal’s article says one reason an iPhone app has become a credible idea for health is because “more than 2 trillion text messages” were sent in 2009, which of course is eons ago in the mobile technology realm.

Women sign up for the service by sending a text message with their child’s expected birth date and they receive three messages a week offering evidence-based information relevant to the stage of pregnancy they are in.

I haven’t signed up for the app, not having the remotest likelihood of needing such a thing, but I admit to some concerns.  Text4Baby logoMostly, because it’s clear on the website and in the app’s logo itself (shown here) that the “private” part of the partnership is a for-profit company that makes and sells lots and lots of baby products.  Again, not having signed up I don’t know that this is the case, but it would seem like missing a huge commercial opportunity to be the private side of a partnered project like this and NOT use it to market product.  Do the messages contain promotional material?

Emory University, in Atlanta, is conducting an early adopter study of T4B (as its friends call it), but the four research questions mentioned in the Journal review don’t include anything about whether the project might influence mothers’ purchasing decisions.

Those concerns aside, the goals of the program seem laudable: to inform mothers in language anyone can understand about the best practices as supported by evidence-based medicine for taking care of themselves and their infants.  Texts should, theoretically, be easy to understand and quick to “get,” so the idea is a good one.

Let’s just see what the Emory study shows.