Background: The Oklahoma State Department of Health is working to improve HIV treatment and testing in Oklahoma. After conducting thorough qualitative and quantitative research, we developed a culturally appropriate and effective campaign to increase awareness of HIV testing and treatment services throughout the state.
Program background: In our research, we first identified populations in high-need areas through county and zip code level data. Qualitative research was completed to better understand the attitudes and beliefs of the target audience – men who have sex with men. This research was conducted through an online focus group, with 40 men participating. The focus group was conducted over a 3-day period, with participants spending more than 30 minutes each day responding to questions and communicating with each other. The goal of the focus group was twofold - to understand the mindset and lifestyle of the target audience in regards to risky behaviors and sexual activity and to uncover their attitude and awareness towards HIV testing. During the focus group, VI also tested the effectiveness of advertising concepts to encourage testing. This research indicated that despite the clear advantage of regular HIV testing, a powerful complex of emotions and misconceptions, such as fear, shame, guilt and denial prevent people from getting tested for HIV. This led us to the question: which is deadlier, HIV or the beliefs and emotions that surround it? In February 2017, a public awareness campaign was created to educate and encourage audiences to be tested and treated. In this "Deadlier Than HIV" campaign, we literalize the paralyzing fear that fear itself is deadlier than HIV. Personified in the form of a monstrous, terrifying shadow, it illustrates how unchecked fear and denial loom larger than the disease itself. Campaign Goals/Objectives: To communicate that effective testing and lifesaving treatments are available to those who will stand up to their own fears and misconceptions. The following key performance indicators (KPIs) will support: - Increase usage of free service testing from 20,000 to 30,000 in 2017 - Increase knowledge and usage of 211 phone number - Linkage to care - Decrease the number of undiagnosed Oklahoma HIV cases from 1,752 to 1,000 Media Plan - The media plan was developed to reach our target audience through traditional and non-traditional strategic buys. The traditional buys focused on digital (display and social), print (The Gayly), radio in top target markets (Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton). Outlets for placements were chosen through the qualitative and quantitative research. Our out of home buys included bars and clubs frequented by our target audience, bus benches, gas pump toppers and community clinic signage.
Evaluation Methods and Results: Results for the media campaign are forthcoming, as the creative started in March. We will be able to present preliminary data in August.
Conclusions: Research is an essential practice for creative messaging and marketing tactic development.
Implications for research and/or practice: Any time you are creating messages that could be potentially controversial for a target audience, using audience research to create buy-in is incredibly important.