Direction & Editing: Margaux Joffe
Video Production: Alex Gomez, Intercultural Productions
Background and research:
The Boston Public Health Commission’s annual report on the health status of Boston residents found that teens between the ages of 15 and 19 represent the highest percentage of new cases of Chlamydia in Boston. In 2008, the incidence rate for Chlamydia among 15 –to-19 year-old females was 4,726 per 100,000, compared to 673 per 100,000 for women of other ages. In males ages 15-to-19, the incidence rate was 1,608 per 100,000.
The campaign utilized press releases for earned media, cable TV advertisement, access cable programming, radio advertisement, ethnic print media, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (bus ads and station signs), posters, and social media outreach, including Facebook and YouTube. We also created collateral material, such as T-shirts and condom cases.
The goal of the campaign was to raise awareness among teens, specifically the 15- to- 19-year-old demographic about Chlamydia and how they could protect themselves from the sexually transmitted infection. We wanted youth to talk to youth about the issues, instead of the health commission delivering the message from on high.
Before we created the campaign's TV ad, we wanted to capture STI prevention messages from youth themselves, so we launched a video contest on YouTube called "Get Reel: Check Yourself.’’ We asked Boston teens to create a 1 minute video telling their friends how to protect themselves from STIs. The entries were judged by a panel of high shool students and public health professionals. The winning video, created by two local teens, was a comedy skit set in a makeshift classroom where a teacher, Ms. Tinkleberry, offers students instructions on how to avoid STIs. One student confuses STIs with the SAT, the college entrance exam, and winds up getting infected. The message of the video was that youths should use condoms to reduce their risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Out of that video came the campaign’s message: “A perfect score on the SATs might be hard, but preventing STIs isn’t. Do your homework. Protect yourself. Don’t get infected.” We hired a local photographer and videographer to reshoot the video for the print and TV campaign. The TV commercial was directed and edited by our in-house multimedia producer. We hired a social media company, KBuzz to help us create a Facebook page, facebook.com/bostonsexED, which chronicles campaign activities with YouTube videos created by the Commission. Fans of the page are allowed to anonymously post questions about sexual health that are answered by Commission staff. They can also participate in opinion polls or get answers to frequently asked questions about sexually transmitted infections, or link to free STI testing sites in Boston. After seeing the success of the campaign, Puma sponsored a back to school contest called "Protect yourself in style", in which fans could enter to win Puma gear by logging onto the campaign's Facebook page and correctly answering questions related to sexual health and STI prevention.
The Facebook page has attracted more than 1,740 fans. The page reached our target audience, with 57% of the fans between ages 13-to-17, followed by 35% in the 18-24 age range. The campaign was front page news in The Boston Globe and was reported on by local TV and radio. In terms of a quantitative evaluation of the campaign, we will be looking at the STI rates among Boston teens in the upcoming Health of Boston reports.
Background and Research:
With two-thirds of Boston’s population under the age of 44, and the burden of H1N1 falling deep within that demographic, the Boston Public Health Commission knew it had a communication challenge. As the BPHC’s Executive Director Barbara Ferrer told the Boston Globe, young people “don’t watch the 6 o’clock news and they’re not picking up our pamphlets.” The strategy developed by agency’s Communication’s Office to reach out to this group followed the age-old public health axiom of meeting people where they are. In this case, it meant meeting people through social media, and online video.
The goal of the project was to create a music video that would catch the attention of Boston youth and successfully communicate four key flu prevention messages: staying home when sick, covering a cough, washing hands, and getting vaccinated.
Ethan “Smizzy” McCoy and Taji “Boston Bones” Salah Nassor - two local rap artists and interns at the Boston Public Health Commission’s Men’s Health CREW program - wrote the song. A spoof of The Dream's “Walking on the Moon,” “Talkin’ ‘bout the flu” promoted messages of staying home when sick, covering a cough, washing hands, and getting vaccinated. We hired a local videographer to shoot the video, which was directed and edited by our in-house multimedia producer, Margaux Joffe. A 30 second version of the music video screened as a commercial in Boston movie theaters and on cable stations, as well as featured on the Commission’s website, YouTube Channel and Facebook page.
Produced on a shoestring budget of less than $1,000, the flu-prevention music video was a hit. Once the video was unveiled on the Commission's YouTube and Facebook page, it successfully caught the attention of young adults in Boston and across the country. The song gained local and international attention, and was adapted by health departments of Los Angeles, Tacoma, and Seattle to promote their H1N1 vaccination clinics. It is the most watched video on the agency's YouTube Channel, with over 11,200 views. The YouTube video has been praised as one of the best uses of social media in Massachusetts during the H1N1 response.