Newsletter 4

‘Drink Up’ – A social media campaign to address childhood obesity in the US

The goal of the Drink Up campaign, a collaboration between the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and First Lady Michelle Obama, was to deliver a clear, actionable, and positive message to shift the population to adopt healthier behaviours. An ongoing trend away from carbonated sweetened drinks, towards the purchase of water, intersected with research identified sugar-sweetened beverages as the largest contributor to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Particularly, the impact on children was concerning. The strategy was to generate enough earned media to elevate the chance that most Americans would be aware of the campaign by its inaugural week. Multiple stakeholders were enlisted, and participants were recruited for their ability to resonate with the target segment and influence its cultural norms.

Understanding purchase patterns regarding beverages and what motivated these consumers would be key to discovering how to spur change. This required insights on consumer attitudes about their health: a psychographic segmentation on which observed purchase behaviour and media behaviour patterns could be superimposed. Such granular data informed the campaign’s messaging. Creative taglines and concepts were tested for neurological effectiveness. Messages that tested positively became a creative advertising copy for the campaign website, a campaign logo and public service announcements. Corporations, NGOs, foundations, celebrities, and sports figures all worked to amplify the message of the campaign.

Tap water consumption is difficult to measure, so to measure campaign impact, sales of bottled water were a proxy for changing water consumption patterns. Exposure was measured with audience demographics, reach and frequency for those exposed to the campaign via TV and/or online. Digital and place-based media exposure were also measured. The outcomes showed measurable increases in bottled water consumption: a 3% increase among the test group representing the segments of the population tested and a 4% increase in the segment with the lowest socioeconomic status.