It always begins with listening. There is no project that DDB Issues & Advocacy takes on — whether online or off — that does not include listening first to those we want to reach and engage. We are developing user experiences that will encourage and enable people to take the actions we wish them to take. And we can’t design that experience without knowing precisely what motivates them. And we can’t understand those motivations unless we take the time to listen.
The Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation wanted us to do just that — listen to what people were saying about the social determinants of health and develop recommendations for the creation of an online community. So, we spent a few weeks aggregating and analyzing social media content and thinking about where those users were and where we wanted them to go.
Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) launched in 2008 by the Entertainment Industry Foundation as a bold new organization focused on challenging the inefficiencies of conventional research processes and accelerating the cure for cancer. As SU2C entered its second year, it sought to evolve its digital presence into a significant fundraising channel. However, as a newcomer in the already saturated nonprofit category, SU2C faced a number of challenges, including competition from established cancer nonprofits and decreased charitable giving overall. So, SU2C turned to DDB Issues & Advocacy for help. From the outset we knew that to activate donors we needed a strategy that enabled them to feel like they were part of the solution. To act, we need to believe our actions will have an impact.
The ONE campaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hired DDB to wage a blitz leading up to the G8 Summit, where leaders were poised to make commitments — and progress — on ending extreme global poverty. While squashing poverty sounds like a cause everyone can support, we knew that citizens of developed nations are largely ignorant of the crisis and are often more concerned about issues that affect their everyday lives. DDB’s challenge was a numbers game. We needed to reach and engage a critical mass of informed citizens within G8 nations and compel them to care about global poverty, understand the opportunity at hand and act in a way that would amplify their voices, ensuring that G8 leaders heard them loud and clear. DDB developed a countdown campaign leading up to the day the world leaders would finalize their commitments.
The Gill Foundation hired DDB Issues & Advocacy to develop a campaign to stir the conversation of equal opportunity for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. Our specific goals were to broaden the understanding of “gay rights” to include freedom from workplace discrimination and to drastically increase sympathy and empathy for LGBT individuals.
We aimed to motivate people (research identified educated women 18–40 and, specifically, women 25–34 as the movable middle) to reexamine their predisposed beliefs on the issue. To counter the opposition’s use of fear and fiction, the centerpiece of the campaign was a series of mini-documentaries featuring LGBT individuals who “came out” on the job in states where their employment was not protected. At the conclusion, viewers were directed to a website to learn how the stories ended and access additional information about the inequalities that research showed would help sway their beliefs.
After a successful launch in 2007, 34 percent of Americans were aware of the brand (RED). Not shabby, but that left 66 percent who were not. And, of those who knew about (RED), 38 percent thought it was an offshoot of the Gap, and only 24 percent knew it was connected to AIDS in Africa. So, when (RED) asked DDB to rebuild its website, we knew that “just a website” wasn’t going to hack it. Instead, we built a POV on their business and brand and got to work. Our tasks were to increase the contribution (RED) makes to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, increase awareness and understanding of the (RED) brand, and ensure that increased awareness and understanding led to greater consumer involvement, as reflected in sales and advocacy. Our strategy was to better leverage (RED)’s relationships with its partners to increase awareness and understanding through their own online marketing and engage consumers as “members,” expanding reach and understanding through their personal networks.
DDB worked with the Kaiser Family Foundation and Viacom on KNOW HIV/AIDS, a groundbreaking global media campaign. The effort combined the public health knowledge of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the power of Viacom’s vast media brands and the brand-building expertise of DDB to combat HIV/AIDS through public service messages, television and radio programming, as well as free print and online content. Our challenge was to convince the U.S. general population (age 18 and older) and opinion leaders to care about the pandemic at a time when Americans thought HIV/AIDS had no relevance to their lives and that they had no power to have an impact on what they saw as a hopeless situation. To do this, DDB brought to life the question, “What if AIDS affected your community like it affects other regions of the world?”
RememberSegregation.org decided the time had come for a forceful reminder and a revival of a visceral connection to the meaning of the civil rights struggle in the U.S. On a shoestring budget, DDB Issues & Advocacy was asked to take the message to the classroom and start a dialogue with teachers about including the state of racism today in America in their lesson plans. In addition, DDB was tasked with developing a website and driving people to take action and learn more about Dr. King and his message at RememberSegregation.org.
We chose to confront users with a simple message that would define their experience from that point forward; multiple touch points,,each forcing the user to a profoundly uncomfortable consideration — “white or colored?” “Segregated columns” in a newspaper ad, “separate entrances” on a direct mail envelope, “separate web pages” for white and colored — a literally and symbolically divided communications campaign.
The gap between those who favored marriage equality and those who did not was smaller than ever. But while the gap may have been relatively narrow, the climb was still steep. Our goal was to increase support for marriage equality, as well as empathy toward LGBT individuals and same-sex couples. Based on research developed by our partner, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, our core idea was to create an emotional connection with those who were conflicted about marriage and LGBT equality and persuade them to resolve their conflict in favor of marriage. We needed to understand where they were coming from and implicitly acknowledge their conflict — without validating their anti-same-sex marriage opinions. We called upon their higher values of fairness, tolerance, privacy and empathy, and in doing so, helped them shift away from their negative feelings and fears about LGBT individuals and same-sex marriage.
The core idea behind the campaign tagline, “Let California Ring,” was simple: The majority within the target takes the right to marriage for granted. Through various executions, DDB Issues & Advocacy explored what it might be like if this basic right was taken away from all of us — gay and “straight.” We wanted to instill a sense of pride in the target audiences: Let California be the state that stood true to its citizens’ values of tolerance and justice. Let California Ring.
The Quality/Equality Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to improving the quality of health care for all Americans. Their aim is to help communities across the country set and achieve goals to improve the quality of health care in ways that matter to patients and their families. As the interactive agency for the portfolio we focus on how best to engage others in achieving their goals through social media and other digital strategies.
DDB Issues & Advocacy provided strategic counsel to the National Breast Cancer Coalition for nearly two decades, helping to bring the annual budget for breast cancer research from the paltry sum of $100 million to more than $700 million per year at the National Institutes of Health and a new funding stream of over $2 billion of innovative research at the Department of Defense.
The information is out there, but who can understand what it means — to them? Health data abounds, but most of us don’t know how to use that information to make decisions that will positively impact our health outcomes.
In The Decision Tree, Wired’s Executive Editor, Thomas Goetz, proposes a new approach. He suggests that giving people tools to actively engage with their health and make better decisions at the right opportunity will lead to dramatic improvements in their health, and in their lives.
PATH works in more than 70 countries around the world to develop solutions to the complex problem of global health crises in the developing world. While a substantial portion of PATH’s funding comes from philanthropic foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization relies on individual donors to provide the unrestricted funding they need to explore cutting-edge ideas and expand pilot projects around the world. Based on our belief that their existing supporters were their most powerful marketing channels, DDB worked with PATH to develop a strategy to “inform, inspire and engage” existing donors and provide them with the tools to serve as “ambassadors” for the mission and message of the organization.
In the United States, young people ages 15–29 are diagnosed with cancer at twice the rate of younger children. For this age group, cancer is the leading cause of nonaccidental death. One major obstacle for survival is a lower adherence to treatment regimens among young people. HopeLab wanted to combat this problem and encourage young people to manage their treatment in a way that would truly resonate. They created Re-Mission, a 3D “shooter” video game that allows the player to control “Roxxi,” a nanobot who destroys cancer cells, battles bacterial infections and manages side effects associated with cancer and cancer treatment while traveling through a patient’s body. DDB’s job was to launch the game, publicize the outcomes study and get the game in the hands of young people dealing with cancer. We developed a campaign that combined PR with advocacy relations and online outreach. It worked.
In the state of Montana, meth’s consequences are harrowing. The number of patients admitted to state-approved chemical dependency treatment centers and listing meth as their primary drug had increased 70 percent since 2000, and the drug had wreaked havoc on law enforcement, tax payers, prisons, hospitals, families and schools. Several rounds of statewide research indicated that engaging teens was necessary to help reverse the trend. DDB was given the task of raising awareness of the negative impacts of meth to significantly reduce use of the drug.