TVA was selected by the City of Seattle Health and Human Services to lead a bilingual public awareness and counter-marketing campaign to reach Black, Latinx, and low-income youth – the highest contributors to beverage tax dollars within the City.
According to a study conducted by the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, spending for sugary-drink advertisements on Spanish-language television increased by 10% between 2013 and 2018, with preschool-aged youth seeing the most advertisements. The study also revealed that Black teens are served 2.3 times more ads for these dangerous drinks than their white peers. Our work aimed to:
- Lower the demand for sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda / pop, energy drinks, and fruity drinks.
- Raise awareness in our communities about the deceptive marketing tactics beverage companies use to target Black and Brown youth.
- Highlight the health consequences of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages – particularly Type 2 Diabetes.
Aside from the Rudd study, very little research had been conducted due to copyright protection, influence, and power of the companies making sugar-sweetened beverages including soda / pop, energy drinks, and fruity beverages. These companies are not forthright about the sugar content in their products, nor do they share the health consequences and risks linked to sugar. Instead, they associate their brands with athleticism, energy, and strength and market specifically to Black and Brown youth through social media, celebrity influencers, prizes, hip-hop culture, and sports icons.
In response, we created a Coalition made up of community organizations already serving youth to elicit feedback, gather data and the important stories behind the data. A human-centered research and mixed-methods approach was leveraged including a survey, focus group, and feedback sessions.
Youth preferred positive messaging, rather than shaming, and the most popular choice for alternative beverage consumption was water. Our “Be Ready. Be Hydrated.” campaign encourages water consumption as an urban lifestyle choice.
Campaign imagery focused on urban settings, included metal reusable water bottles, and #drinkwater #tomaagua stickers. Community and ethnic media outlets, as well as local influencers, amplified the campaign through trusted sources within Seattle’s Black and Brown communities. Broadcast television, commercial radio, and long-form segments and articles provided space to focus on the health risks related to consumption of sugary beverages.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, “Be Ready. Be Hydrated.” and received grassroot support from Black and Brown communities across the City of Seattle. Throughout a two-month period, we received more than 500 survey responses, nearly 5.9 million impressions, and 14,000 clicks. 1,000+ water bottles and 8,000+ stickers were distributed and earned and paid media was achieved and managed across 15+ local outlets.