500 million people globally live with either chronic hepatitis B or C. Whilst that’s higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, the disease is hugely underfunded, with thousands remaining undiagnosed. On a personal level, the disease is too often ignored and shrouded in stigma.
World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes place on July 28th and is one of four days recognised by the World Health Organisation, aiming to raise awareness of the disease amongst a global community.
The World Hepatitis Alliance wanted a campaign that could be taken up by 100 local groups, was scalable to their needs, and meaningful in all contexts.
By raising awareness among the public the Alliance wanted to prevent new infections and deliver real improvements in health outcomes for people with hepatitis B and C.
The Alliance also wanted to widen access to treatment and lessen the stigma around viral hepatitis by highlighting the prevalence and indiscriminate nature of the disease. Above all the campaign needed to inspire action: know it, confront it, and get tested.
Any potential pitfalls you needed to take into account?
The previous year’s campaign ‘Am I number 12?’ successfully engaged 81 groups around the world, but there was potential to engage more groups to ensure unified action.
In addition, with an average of 3,402 visitors per month to the Alliance website during the previous year’s campaign, the challenge was also set to engage with more audiences online than ever before and look at ways to target audiences in developing countries such as Africa, where viral hepatitis is extremely prevalent and access to the internet is limited.
OK and what was your grand plan to tackle this?
Red Door Communications developed a campaign that sought pro-active engagement and directly communicated the stark reality of hepatitis; with the strap-line - `it’s closer than you think’.
Ten hard-hitting posters were developed communicating the impact of the disease and practical toolkits to implement a local campaign. All were developed in seven languages and distributed to the Alliance’s 193 member countries.
Community engagement was key - so we designed a Guinness World Record attempt for ‘the most number of individuals performing the gestures of "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" in a 24 hour period’. These actions were based on the proverb known as the three wise monkeys who cover their eyes, ears and mouth to avoid uncomfortable truths.
This created a striking visual of the denial in which hepatitis is shrouded. To achieve the record, 25 people at ten different locations needed to perform the actions. The event was supported by a Twitter campaign and Facebook app.
A pilot SMS campaign to drive people to get tested was developed with mobile network providers in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
Sounds good - What outcome did all this have on your client’s business?
107 patient groups participated in the campaign compared to 81 from the previous year. Traffic to the Alliance website increased by 14.6% compared with 10% in the same period in 2011.
The Twitter campaign asked people to tweet photos of themselves performing the ‘three wise monkeys’ poses. These were posted to #seehearspeakno and automatically uploaded into an online gallery linked to the World Hepatitis Alliance website, Twitter feed and Facebook page.
Automatic replies were sent to each tweet to thank users and to let them know about their nearest Guinness World Record venue to drive attendance. 1.7 million tweets were posted and measured through the hashtag. 12,588 people participated in the Guiness World Record in 42 locations around the world.
The SMS text-blasting campaign reached 1.45 million people and a staggering 24.5% of people in South Africa texted back to receive more information.
Impressive - Any gems of wisdom you learned from working on this that you’d like to pass on?
Twitter was a great way to engage people with the live Guinness World Record attempt and even received spontaneous celebrity endorsement from famous names such as Sadie Frost, Boy George, and Fat Boy Slim who posted photos to help raise the profile of the campaign.
Building an auto-tweet system was a very effective way of communicating essential public health information. Every time a tweet included a mention of the hashtag, a response was sent back to the user to thank them for getting involved and to provide additional information about the wider World Hepatitis Day campaign.
Establishing partnerships with Mobile Network Operators in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa allowed dissemination of important SMS messages to millions of people in areas where a greater health need exists.