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You Know Different campaign
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In 2005, NYAC, the nation’s only GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning) youth advocacy organization, received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and implement a social marketing pilot campaign to increase HIV testing and test retrieval among African American GLBTQ youth ages 13-24. More than 30 community organizations in south Florida, Washington, D.C., and the Bronx, New York, came together to form partnerships to implement both the testing itself and the accompanying social marketing campaign in these three geographic locations. The You Know Different campaign was developed by MG in collaboration with community organizations from all three locations utilizing our public will building model.
Research elements we designed included surveys, interviews and focus groups with target audiences and organizations. Core challenges revealed in this research included lack of perceived authenticity of current messages about HIV/AIDS testing and prevention; low level of trust in celebrity and other “external” spokespersons in many HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns; inability to identify personally with the campaigns; and not seeing “people like me” in the campaigns. In addition, target audiences in all three communities noted that mainstream media had little or no influence with or appeal to them. Instead, they indicated a strong desire to see themselves reflected authentically in the campaign, to hear campaign messages from their peers and to have them delivered in social contexts they create themselves or regularly frequent. In addition, a large percentage of African American males in the target audiences did not identify as “gay” (but rather as men on the “down low” and/or men seeking men for sex), thus the campaign needed to focus on disease prevention aspects, versus sexual identity.
MG focused the campaign on low-cost strategies that included direct outreach and interactive approaches that youth told us had the highest credibility and authenticity for them. Messages were tested with and shaped by target audiences as was the campaign creative, which focused on the hip, urban vibe that young people described as most reflective of themselves. Specific outreach included peer education networks, social networks, club scenes and other gathering places, online communication, palm cards, posters and stickers (as simple collateral tools), and public service announcement scripts that campaign partners utilized in their own community media channels.
Partners were trained to conduct outreach, seek promotional partners in their communities and utilize print and online tools developed by MG. Peer educators were also mobilized, taking palm cards to clubs, balls and other social gathering places frequented by the target market population.
The pilot campaign results are extraordinary. The campaign goal of a 100 percent increase in testing and test retrieval was exceeded by 20 percent. There was also a 300 percent increase in the number of young people contacting testing organizations, a 220 percent increase in the number of HIV tests scheduled and a five percent increase in the number of walk-in tests requested. The campaign included a two-week lead period (when materials were distributed), a two-week testing period, and a minimum of two weeks’ follow-up. Eighteen community partners participated in the pilot.
Data show that the campaign materials motivated more than 80 percent of young adults tested during the campaign “somewhat” or “a lot”; more than 50 percent of participants who completed a spot interview reported seeing the campaign materials prior to testing; and 72 percent of organizations reported successfully using peer outreach during the campaign. Read the full Evaluation Summary >
In June 2006, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) awarded Metropolitan Group its highest honor, a Silver Anvil Award, in multicultural pubic relations for its work with NYAC on the campaign.
Campaign rollout will continue in 2006 and a phase-two campaign in additional regions is currently under development. The CDC has told NYAC that You Know Different is the most successful HIV testing campaign it has funded.