AHRQ dresses up campaign to buoy men's healthcare acumen

The effort aims to make men more savvy healthcare consumers and get them into the doctor's office more often. The most recently released AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (2005) found that men are 25% less likely than women to have yearly checkups

Objective: The effort aims to make men more savvy healthcare consumers and get them into the doctor's office more often. The most recently released AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (2005) found that men are 25% less likely than women to have yearly checkups. According to Ellyn Fisher, Ad Council director of corporate communications, "It's all about starting a dialogue."

The key demographic targeted is US men over 40. "We went out and talked to men," she added, "and found in our conversations and focus groups that the reason [they] weren't going is they think they can handle things on their own."

Idea: The campaign centers on PSAs and strategic media relations, which use a humorous tone while encouraging men to seek out doctors. Examples include a man in a doctor's gown walking his daughter down the aisle. Al Lazar, director of AHRQ's Office of Communication and Knowledge Transfer, emphasized that the communications team sought to maintain a positive focus by attaching the campaign to upbeat promotions, such as Father's Day and National Men's Health Week.

Tools: In addition to the PSAs, the AHRQ launched a new Web site, www.ahrq.gov/realmen/quiz.htm, which provides preventative testing tips, referrals, a quiz, and videos. Former NBA star Sam Perkins will headline an SMT with the groups' leaders. The effort is also reaching out to bloggers and social media. Internally, PR materials were provided to AHRQ staff, partners, and constituents.

Measurement: The team is monitoring the number and quality of titles that cover it, as well as Web site hits. Organizers believe the effort had already reached more than 5.3 million people in the first few days through its SMT, b-roll distribution, and other coverage.

Company: US Dept. of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare and Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Ad Council
Campaign: Real Men Wear Gowns
PR Team: Internal teams
Launch: April 21
Budget: About $100,000 (PR)

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