The Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse wanted to create a pilot program to test the effectiveness of a teenage alcohol prevention strategy using social norms marketing. Social norms marketing is based on the concept that much of our behavior is influenced by our perception of what is "normal." It corrects misperceptions, increases knowledge and changes attitudes.
The Commission created a partnership with the Broward County School District, selected a high school for the pilot program, and surveyed 3400 students to determine existing norms for the use of alcohol by teenagers, and the perception of alcohol use.
Ambit created a public relations campaign to engage students throughout the school in an awareness based on their own survey results, "4 out of 5 students prefer not to drink alcohol when hanging out with friends."
The campaign created a "buzz" with students through an intriguing campaign comprised of several stages. Each stage revealed more information and included messages on large banners, t-shirts, message signs, the school newspaper, and the school mascot at athletic games. Ambit created blue and green characters that represented the students, and through input from student focus groups, introduced the tag line "Know What You Stand For."
Automated phone calls with "4 out of 5" messages were made to the students' home in the family's native language (English, Spanish, Creole and Portuguese), and bracelets and pencils were distributed with "Know What You Stand For" during finals. Teachers were also engaged and received post-it pads and coffee mugs emblazoned with the campaign's message.
Surveys of students prior to the end of the school year demonstrated a high awareness of the "4 out of 5" campaign. The pilot program will continue next year, at which time additional surveys will be taken to assess the level of teenage alcohol consumption. The campaign is expected to be repeated in other Broward County high schools in subsequent years.