Although teen pregnancies in the state of Washington have declined in the past 10 years, 11,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 became pregnant there in 2004.
With higher-than-average poverty rates, little or no secondary education, and health risks among the consequences, the problem prompted the state to take action. The Washington State Department of Health hired Spokane, WA-based Desautel Hege Communications (DHC) to raise awareness about abstinence.
The media campaign targeted 10- to 14-year-olds with the message that they should wait to have sex. It also reached out to parents and broached ways to show them that talking to their kids about sex could be easy. "We wanted to raise awareness about abstinence among youth and also to encourage parents to talk to them more frequently," says Alli Benjamin, an account coordinator at DHC.
Pre-campaign research and focus groups laid the framework for the effort and shaped its messages. The resulting tagline: "No sex. No problems." DHC used a Web site, along with TV and radio spots, to promote its goals of abstinence among tweens and teens. The ads also targeted parents and focused on ways to discuss sex with their kids. DHC partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of America to conduct post-campaign surveys.
The campaign generated 5 million impressions. Post-campaign research found that more than 60% of respondents had seen the ads, and the number of kids who had talked to their parents more than four times in the past three months about waiting to have sex went up from 15% to 25%. There was a 25% recall of the tagline, "No sex. No problems."
The Department of Health tapped DHC to conduct the campaign again this year, and DHC is working on several projects for the department.
PR team: Washington State Department of Health (Olympia, WA) and Desautel Hege Communications (Spokane, WA)
Campaign: Abstinence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Duration: April to September 2005