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#12. The British Government's Adult Sexual Health Campaign

MarketingSherpa Summary:
Can you say classy? When the British Government wanted to teach young adults about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, they hired ... an opera singer. The resulting audio feature "12 Days of STDs" Web site has become a pop-culture icon reaching more than 2 million people and generating a fresh wave of viral traffic every Christmas season. There's no measurable data on the number of AIDs cases it's prevented, but even one is immeasurably worthwhile.

Agency - Big Picture
Client/company - British Government
Brand campaign was conducted for - Adult Sexual Health
Launch date of campaign - December 2002
Target audience/demographic - Young adults

Campaign Goal:
Young people are increasingly at risk from sexually transmitted diseases but the traditional warning messages are ignored. We were working with AD Agency DLKW who has developed a sex lottery idea and we needed a viral element to extend the limited budget and to get young people to acknowledge the issue and then share the information with their friends.

We decided to focus on the pre christmas period as office parties are a time of increased risk. The idea of the 12 STDs of Christmas was developed, the script written, an opera singer hired and we the built a flash site which was added to the campaign web site.

Seed Strategy:
We rented a seed list of opted in email addresses and mailed friends and family. We also targeted DJs and journalists of youth media.

Buzz Generated:
Huge buzz - look at the Google results;,GGLD:2004-47,GGLD:en&q=12+stis+of+christmas .
We also gots lots of cover in the UK press who felt it was very controversial for a Government campaign.

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
The initial mailing was 34k and each person passed it on to an average 0f 9.5 people giving 446k views on the first burst. After that it grew dramatically - and has blown up in the pre christmas period in both 2003 and 2004 - we now estimate its reached well over 2 million people.

Biggest Learning:
That you can become part of popular culture with a viral - if its good enough. We were surprised when it started circulating agin the following Christmas - but we now think thats always going to happen.

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