Background: To address increasing syphilis infection among MSM, the Los Angeles County (LAC) Sexually Transmitted Disease Program (STDP) began planning a new social marketing campaign to increase syphilis testing in early 2007. A major campaign goal was to create a strong brand that would resonate with MSM in LAC. Ads needed to compete with highly sexualized imagery in the local gay press, and with other social marketing advertisements. Key planning components included a community advisory group and five focus groups. Campaign ads ran in a variety of media from 2007-2009 and total expenditures (including campaign planning) were $808,224.
Objectives: To measure community awareness and response to the campaign.
Methods: In August 2009, the STDP surveyed 306 ethnically-diverse MSM in LAC to evaluate the campaign. The survey utilized a time-space sample and contained questions about demography, campaign awareness, syphilis knowledge, sexual risk, and testing behavior. Respondents were also asked if they found ads appealing and motivational, and if they could relate to ads.
Results: Total campaign awareness was 88%, with aided awareness for specific ads ranging from 16% to 82%. Of those respondents with aided awareness of a particular ad, 65% to 92% found the ad appealing; 53% to 76% found the ad to be motivational; and 48% to 81% reported that they could relate to the ad. Results for syphilis attitudes, knowledge, and testing will also be presented.
Conclusions: The Check Yourself campaign achieved an extremely high level of awareness among MSM in LAC from 2007-2009. While reactions varied by ad, the majority of men found the ads to be appealing and motivational, and reported that they could relate to one or more ads.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: These results indicate that a thoughtfully planned campaign can be memorable and resonate with the target audience over time.