Sunday, October 16, 2005

Well Done

Word Up, Arizona

[A public service] campaign is aimed at reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies in Arizona, which is the second highest in the country behind only Mississippi. The advertising, sponsored by the Arizona Department of Health Services, is aimed at teenage girls and their sex partners as well as parents. [...]

The campaign is unusual for a couple of reasons. One is that the ads present their message - "Abstain or use a condom" - in the form of what is known as spoken-word poetry, as it is performed in competitions called poetry slams. [...]A major part of the campaign, which ran through the summer, was centered on a contest asking members of the target audience to submit their own spoken-word poems.

The other reason the campaign is unusual is its extensive use of nontraditional media, which includes cellphone text messaging, e-mail messages and the Internet in addition to more conventional media like television, radio, posters and billboards. Such media are, of course, mainstays of the teenagers at whom the campaign is aimed. [...]

The commercials have been produced in Spanish also, to reflect the large Hispanic population of Arizona as well as the fact that, according to research by the agency, Hispanic adolescents in the state have the highest birth rates for teenage mothers.

The campaign is aimed at not only the teenage girls most at risk for becoming pregnant, but at a somewhat broader male audience, ages 16 to 25. That reflects data, the agency says, showing that 51 percent of the fathers of babies by teenage girls are in their 20's.

The ads addressed to parents are inspired by research indicating that teenagers rank their parents No.1 in influencing their decisions about having sex.

The commercials feature girls and boys, separately and together, who recite the salient points of the campaign in the cadences of spoken word. In the TV spots [...] the words appear on screen in handwriting as they are voiced. [...]

The spoken-word contest took place during July and August on a hip-hop radio station in Phoenix [...] The station, known as "Power 92," is particularly popular with the campaign's intended audience. Listeners were invited to enter by submitting audio files through e-mail messages or recording their poetry over the telephone. A local poetry rap artist named Divine Essence chose weekly finalists in the contest and posted audio files on a Web site ( [...]The winner of the contest was determined by which entry was downloaded the most, on computers or cellphones, as audio files or ring tones. There were a total of 11,155 downloads...

- By STUART ELLIOTT for the NYTimes [all emph. add.]

It's nice to see an effective advocacy ad - most preach to the choir, and are a completely useless waste of time and money. Anti-smoking and anti-choice groups are the worst offenders that I've seen, in terms of producing bad ads.
Here, you have the ads in the right languages, delivered in a way that's popular with the target audience, and the contest part is genius. It gets the target audience to buy in, and to work to improve the message.
Plus, the target audience decided which was the winning entry, not a panel of well-meaning but probably out-of-touch judges.The fact that there were 11,000 "votes" indicates some measure of success.

It's great that parents are the #1 influence on kids' sexual behavior.
It's horrible that half of the guys knocking up teen girls are ADULTS, even if only barely.


Blogger Jessica Klarkson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 16, 2005 4:42 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


It's horrible that half of the guys knocking up teen girls are ADULTS,

You don't get out much, do you?

October 16, 2005 5:16 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

From an advertizing perspective the campaign is very successful, because getting a message to its intended audience is what advertizing is all about. I'm somewhat doubtful, though, whether it will be all that successful.

And I am torn as to whether this is such a bad thing. Certainly these young mothers will struggle with poverty raising their children, and the children, particularly boys, will miss the influence of a father, but if the alternative is abortion or women who never have children for the lack of suitable marryable father material, then propagating the human race takes precedence over extinction.

October 16, 2005 6:22 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


The amazing part isn't that most are adults, but that the statutory rape laws are so widely ignored.

October 21, 2005 2:21 PM  
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November 06, 2005 10:46 PM  
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November 08, 2005 1:10 AM  

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