Ogilvy helps CDC launch healthy dating initiative

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is rolling out its "Dating Matters" initiative this month, with Ogilvy Washington leading communications.

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is rolling out its “Dating Matters” initiative this month, with Ogilvy Washington leading communications.  

Dating Matters, in development for a year and a half, is an extension of the CDC's  “Choose Respect” initiative, which promotes healthy relationships among young adults in high-risk urban communities. Ogilvy Washington has worked with the CDC since 2007 on Choose Respect.

Gail Hayes, senior press officer at the CDC Injury Center, said one in 10 high school students has experienced physical dating violence at the hands of a partner in the last year.

“We felt that if we developed strategies to promote healthy teen relationships, it can really help communities develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive approach to promoting what we think is important — respectful, non-violent dating relationships,” she said.

The effort will run from this month through January 2013, said Trish Taylor, SVP in Ogilvy's social marketing practice. The CDC awarded the six-figure Dating Matters contract to Ogilvy last summer after a competitive RFP process, she said.

“Our goal is to support the overarching initiative through communications support and by doing that, do everything we can to help the youth in at-risk, urban communities to better navigate their relationships, because it really sets them on a path for their lifetime. It's really important for them to learn these healthy behaviors early as they're starting to develop relationships,” said Taylor.  

Ogilvy, with a team of 10 to 15 employees, will use “very non-traditional approaches” in its outreach because Dating Matters is an evaluation study targeting 11-to-14-year-olds in Chicago, Baltimore, Alameda County, CA, and Broward County, FL. If the test run is successful, the CDC will roll out the initiative nationally.

The agency will reach out to youth in the participating counties, giving them curriculum, policy pieces, and communications features. The firm will also run a program where older peers in the four communities influence the younger teenagers to make healthy relationship decisions.

Facebook will also be a part of the initiative's communications effort, with the agency focusing on community pages. Taylor added that the firm could develop a texting program as well.

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