Case Study: Find the Fun Website, App and Media Campaign
- Media campaign: October 2011–June 2012
- Website and app: October 2011–present (still live)
Like most of the nation, Florida's Pinellas County is battling an obesity epidemic. Two-thirds of its residents are overweight or obese. More than half do not meet the minimum recommendations for exercise and only one in four consumes the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. As a result, a growing number of Pinellas residents—including residents of St. Petersburg and Clearwater—suffer from obesity-related chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and liver and gallbladder disease.
In 2011, the Pinellas County Health Department hired the behavior change marketing firm Salter>Mitchell to create a media campaign as part of a Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The media campaign, which included television, print, outdoor and online advertising, branded Pinellas County the “Capital of Fun” and conveyed how active fun is superior to spending time in front of a screen.
Salter>Mitchell conducted a review of selected secondary research and an environmental scan of health promotion programs followed by formative qualitative and quantitative research.
The qualitative research consisted of six small discussion groups (each with six to nine Pinellas County residents, 18 and older) that were held in August 2011 at three neighborhood centers (two groups each). Each center catered to one of three target demographics: Hispanic, African American and general population. The Hispanic groups were conducted in Spanish.
The quantitative consisted of a random-digit-dial telephone survey of adults aged 18 and older in Pinellas County. Data collection took place from July 25 to August 28, 2011, and final data was weighted by gender, age and race/ethnicity using Pinellas Census data as guidelines. The survey was offered in English and Spanish, and included both landlines and cell phones.
Our approach was to connect the target audience with physical activities they find fun. Sedentary time spent in front of screens isn’t just entertaining; it’s easy to do. So we set out to make “active fun” just as easy by creating and then promoting web and smartphone applications that help Pinellas County residents “find the fun” they want right now. Users can search by neighborhood, budget, time of day, how much time they have for an activity and the kind of people they want to invite. The application returns a list of “actively fun ideas,” along with descriptions and, if an activity is outside, the current weather.
The media campaign promoted the applications in Pinellas County and branded the county as the “Capital of Fun”—conveying how active fun is superior to sedentary screen time. We utilized television ads, cinema ads, online display ads, online radio (audio and digital ads), billboards, bus stop ads, local newspaper ads, the Tampa Bay Rays Yearbook and game-day program ads, community engagement events and search engine marketing.
We also created a targeted outdoor strategy to reach key African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. First, we displayed maps at bus shelters that highlighted fun activities near the bus stop. In addition, because our research showed that Pinellas County’s Hispanic population was Spanish dominant and lacked Internet access, we created a direct-mail booklet in Spanish highlighting actividades divertidas (fun things to do) close to the neighborhood.
We wanted the brand of the campaign to convey, you guessed it, FUN. The blue-and-yellow color scheme is intended to give the feel of a sunny day, while the combination of san serif and casual script font expresses playfulness. All of the ads use simple, bold statements—immediately directing people to fun activities.
Our formative research confirmed that a typical health promotion focused on educating and persuading would likely fail to change behavior in the segment of the population who most needed it—those who were not already committed to exercising and eating healthy foods. It’s not that residents didn’t know that these behaviors provide significant health benefits—knowledge about healthy behaviors was widespread among all socioeconomic groups in Pinellas. It’s that competing demands—particularly the desire to spend time relaxing or socializing with family and friends—took precedence. In addition, a baseline survey found 75 percent of residents reported being in “good” or “excellent” health—despite the discouraging statistics to the contrary—making it difficult to market the necessity of moving more and eating better to improve one’s health.
Our research in Pinellas and other communities across the nation has found that health messages have been widely disseminated and are widely understood by people from virtually every walk of life. But that knowledge—for much of the population—has not translated into healthier habits.
Most people know what they “should” do, but that knowledge just creates guilt, not behavioral change. Based on our formative research, which showed people felt more energetic and more full of life when they engaged in physical activity and ate healthier foods, we positioned these behaviors not as competition to fun but as a superior kind of fun—“things that make you feel good” rather than “things that are good for you.”
Overall, the media campaign succeeded in its intended purpose: it popularized a tool that made it easier not only to contemplate being physically active, but to act on that intention. More than 78,000 Pinellas residents—what amounts to more than one in ten adults—used the web tool to plan healthy, active fun. After nine months of the campaign, 77 percent of residents reported being more interested in physical activity than they had been the prior year, and that interest was stronger among those exposed to the campaign.
The media campaign achieved 44 million impressions, and the campaign’s TV ads were recalled by a third (33 percent) of those surveyed post-campaign. While the “Find the Fun” brand generated only an 11 percent recall, people were much more likely to recall other brands in this crowded space, most notably “Live Well” and “Let’s Move.” Those who did recall “Find the Fun” reported that the slogan had a strong impact on them. Among those who recalled the brand, the majority agreed that Find the Fun “made me realize there are easy ways to be more active” (79 percent); “taught me the benefits of active fun (70 percent); “inspired me to look for active things to do” (70 percent); “inspired me to be more active” (69 percent) and “inspired me to eat healthier” (66 percent).
This case study is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.