At Hello Cool World we put one operating principle to work on all our projects, borrowed from the wisdom of social marketing: representing real people is the best way to reach real people (AKA your intended audience) with any campaign. Even better to engage with intended audiences in order to build all aspects of the campaign. We were hired in 2009 by the BC Cancer Agency to create a social media campaign to promote cervical cancer screening, i.e. Pap tests. What we created was the LACE Campaign.
Below: Jolene Andrew original LACE "Action Team" member
The audience we focused on evolved as the brand framework emerged. LACE stands for "Live Aware Create Empowerment" and the symbol of LACE can be any colour, any size tied on as a reminder for every women to get her Pap. In our early campaign development we were reaching out to young women in BC, who were often not getting their Pap tests when they should. Other communities who are underserved with regular Paps include immigrant women and Aboriginal women. We pulled together an "action team" of diverse young women representative of immigrant, settler and Aboriginal communities, and got to work creating photo & video content to build a presence in the wider community.
We built the brand to be adaptable and we were thrilled when the campaign did resonate with the very communities we were trying to reach, not only young women but in our first year we also connected wtih a group of South Asian students who helped us create Punjabi materials and set up a phone line. And we were very excited that (thanks in part to Chee Mamuk's outreach on our behalf) we signed up eight First Nations Health Centres, and in 2011 we had sixteen! This is a significant number given the total number of Aboriginal health centres and clincis in BC.
As we gear up for another year of LACE Campaign's promotion of Pap Awareness Week 2012 (#Pap12 happening October 22-28) I am thinking again of our 2010 LACE contest winner Lee-Anne Deneault of the Q’wemtsin Health Society (QHS).
Right: Candace & Lee-Anne from QHS
What is significant about her being the winner, is that not only were materials created that resonated with Aboriginal communities, strong Aboriginal familes were positively represented as role models for all women in BC. In addition, as we were getting behind the scenes video documentation we uncovered a real life story - elder Violet herself is a survivor of cervical cancer, and a strong supporter of Pap tests. Watch a video of Lee-Anne's and her community's story after the jump!
I have on my office wall the poster of Lee-Anne and her daughter, and behind me the slogan she came up with for the overall campaign: Strong Women Inspire Change. The materials created for that campaign will be used again this year. Our work with Lee-Anne really represents the heart of our approach, building and maintaining lasting relationships that lead to more collaborations. A lovely moment in this shoot was when Lee-Anne and her cousin Candace decided to tie pieces of lace to their eagle feathers and requested we photograph this. It has become a LACE campaign post card offered to FN clinics who request it from BCCA.
Not only did our work with Lee-Anne produce a lasting legacy of fantastic materials for LACE Campaign, our relationship with her and with Q'wemtsin Health Society helped us revisit their community for a project we did for Immunize BC last year. We hired Lee-Anne to work with us to recruit real people to be part of our "I Have Immunity" photoshoot, and to coordinate the location, logistics and hire the make-up person from their community.
Our work with Immunize BC took the same approach, real people at the core of the campaign will always have a greater impact than stock photos. Stories, not statistics, are how people are influenced to take up positive health behaviors that prevent health problems, whether regular Pap tests, or keeping up with all the available immunizations. Immunize BC's focus was the 'modern family' of BC, which includes cultural diverisity and cross-generational representation.
The photoshoot Lee-Anne helped us coordinate included four generations from First Nations communities served by the QHS. Just like we did with the LACE shoot, we also documented the day on video and did some ad-hoc interviews. And just like before, a story, from an elder emerged - one that we did not even know would happen ahead of time - and that proved to be a moving and emotionally compelling story about how important immunization is for saving lives. See great-grandmother Emily Bara's story about losing her younger sister to influenza over 50 years ago.
The collaborative content creation process we've been employing at Hello Cool World takes more time than a news crew would take. But we learned, as Melanie Rivers, Program Manager of Chee Mamuk reminded us all during one of our Star in Your Own Stories video workshops, to always "trust the process." What a branded framework allows, is a way to unite different stories to have wider distribution and greater overall impact. What a professional team brings is the quality end result that makes everyone shine!
And the beauty of the documentary process is that stories always emerge. And because they are real, they always matter more than our best laid plans for cheesy messaging! A further lesson from documentary is that real stories, that are specific and belong to people with names and cultural contexts are more universally appealing than the often mis-guided attempt to create the 'one-size-fits' all messaging campaign. Of course the 'last word' lesson from documentary, is that it's all in the edit!
Most importantly real stories empower individuals and communities. And the long term effect of this cannot be underestimated.
Katherine Dodds AKA "Kat" is the founder of Good Company Communications and HelloCoolWorld.com. Trained in renegade advertising & branding through her work with Adbusters in the '90s, Kat's early induction into the possibilities of the web-world was inspired by the term hypertext, which she immediately found comforting. She is dedicated to cause-related communication and to the development and use of tools that promote democratic processes.