New Campaign Strategy Analysis

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Hashtag Campaign Case Studies

The ALS Association’s #IceBucketChallenge went viral through the involvement of celebrities and influencers, and was able to raise over $115 million that led to breakthroughs in ALS research. #ShareYourEars by Disney and Make-A-Wish Foundation is also a viral campaign, which led to a $2 million donation to the foundation. These two case studies have been discussed in detail below.

The ALS Association’s #IceBucketChallenge

#ShareYourEars by Disney and Make-A-Wish Foundation

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Trends in PSAs

Public Service Announcements, or PSAs, have been used to inform and educate the public on a myriad of issues. They are considered the most powerful means of communication available to non-profit organizations. Current trends in non-profit PSAs include the push for emotional connections over fame, humor and satire in PSA design, and relatability to the target audience.

Emotional Connection over Fame

  • The use of celebrities has been a common trend in non-profit PSAs but there has been an increasing shift towards pushing for emotional connection over the appeal of celebrities and the fame they command.
  • This study measured the effectiveness of using local victims as opposed to celebrities in a PSA to solicit funds for Hurricane Katrina victims. It was found that while a local celebrity was found to be more credible than a national celebrity, it was the local victim of the disaster that was considered the most credible and believable spokesperson. This can be attributed to the fact that they were the ones most affected by the disaster, thus the audience connected more with them emotionally.
  • An example of the effectiveness of this trend is the viral Love Has No Labels PSA by the Ad Council. It featured an X-ray machine that showed skeletons showing affection to each other. Real people then stepped out from behind the screen to reveal themselves as people of different ages, sexual orientations, races and religions, showing that love truly had no labels.
  • It won both the 2016 Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Commercial category and the 2016 Shorty Awards. This PSA went viral amassing an aggregated 160 million views and 1.8 billion media impressions, becoming the fastest spreading campaign ever and the second most viewed and shared PSA. Love Has No Labels sparked conversation and reactions on social media and inspired similar PSAs in 2017.
  • PSAs that appeal to positive emotions are more likely to be effective because of their appeal to human emotions everyone has or aspires to. Advertising that stirs emotional feelings in their audience is more likely to be shared online on social media and prompt for action.

Use of Humor and Satire

  • More and more PSAs are incorporating the use of humor and satire in their production. They help PSAs create a unique hook that makes them stand out, be memorable, and worth sharing. Humor, for instance, lends a positive effect towards the perception and reception of an ad, as well as enhancing its recall and attention.
  • For the non-profit PSA, What If Bears Killed Five People, anti-sexual assault organization It's On Us teamed up with popular YouTube Channel College Humor, to create a humorous and satirical PSA concerning sexual assault. It shows a hungry bear trying to attack 5 men in a room. The PSA implied that since no one would ignore a hungry bear in a room, they should also not ignore the statistic that sexual assault happens to one in every five women in college.
  • It enjoyed significant coverage across mainstream news sites, as well as amassing over 2.8 million views on YouTube. Shorty Awards that honor the best in social media, praised the PSA, saying that College Humor and It's On Us found a humorous way to talk about a very sensitive and difficult topic. Using a variety of emotions and feelings, such as humor and satire also gives people a reason to share a PSA.


  • Most stations have stated that the most important considerations in deciding to air a PSA is its relatability to its audience. Thus, it has become imperative that PSAs cater to issues that are of interest to the station's prime audience.
  • Relatability helps PSAs to spark conversations, make meaningful connections and encourage sharing on social media and with friends and family.
  • Ad Council, the makers of Love Has No Labels, released the PSA in March 2015, which was then considered Pride Month, before President Obama declared June as the official Pride Month. LGBTQ issues are usually highlighted during Pride Month, which made this ad very relatable to the LGBTQ community. The fact that the PSA also celebrated other forms of love made it relevant and relatable to a wider and more diverse audience.

Research Strategy

To determine current trends in non-profit PSAs, your research team began by looking through news articles, press releases, and authoritative editorial pieces by industry leaders on the same. International Media Monitor Cision's findings contributed significantly to the findings included in this report. A 2007 study on the effectiveness of PSA spokespersons was also included since it was the only study of its kind that was easily available. Its findings were deemed relevant and pertinent to this research.
The trends were chosen based on the effectiveness of each trend and the availability of supporting evidence of the same. Supporting evidence was determined by media impressions, whether the PSA went viral, industry commentaries and whether it received any awards or accolades.
Additionally, every example that was cited is a non-profit PSA. There was no indication that any of the PSAs featured in our findings was used for profit. The PSAs including in our findings dealt with social issues like sexual assault and discrimination.
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Audience Analysis (1)

Some popular media platforms in rural, low-income populations in the United States include text messaging over mobile devices and television. Internet usage is not extensive due to poor broadband connections. Some barriers to healthy living among rural, low-income communities in the United States include low literacy levels, provider shortages, lack of access to health insurance, among others.

Media Platforms Commonly Used by Rural, Low Income Populations.

  • According to the American Community Survey, rural and lower-income counties still lag in internet subscriptions, trailing the national average (78%) by 13 points.
  • The Pew Center Research Center also revealed that lower-income communities have fewer options for online access at their disposal; as such, they rely more on smartphones.
  • According to Pew Research findings, “as of early 2019, 26% of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are “smartphone-dependent” internet users — meaning they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet at home”.
  • Estimates show that 85% of rural dwellers own a cell phone, and 76% of such people send or receive text messages. Based on this statistic, some researchers have found that text messaging may be an effective way to reach rural low-income mothers with valuable information and resources that will improve their health and well-being.
  • Researchers have found text messaging to be appealing to rural populations, especially because of the communication barriers that exist.
  • In a study that sought to examine the utility of text messaging for sharing health-related information (such as on nutrition, health insurance, physical activity, etc.), researchers registered satisfaction among participants (mothers) who found receiving information through text messages "easy" and "convenient."
  • Experts argue that while individuals in rural low-income communities watch a lot of television, they may do so during odd hours because they often don’t have 9-to-5 jobs. Therefore, TV messaging and commercials need to be made available at unconventional times.
  • Social media usage is not extensive in rural areas as only “58% of rural adults use Facebook, compared to 75% of urban and 67% of suburban residents.” The Pew Research Center reported that “rural Americans are less likely to use eight of the most common social media platforms.”

Media Content /Advertising That Motivates Action Among Rural, Low-Income Populations

  • Research has revealed that for individuals in rural and low-income settings, one of the motivators to action is content that is 'relatable', personalized, and that promotes self-efficacy. For instance, a group of mothers was highly motivated by personalized text messages received on their mobile devices, providing tips to address health barriers and information on lifestyle, among others.
  • To that extent, content that highlights stories/real-life experiences may resonate with these populations, particularly those that can trigger some emotions in them.
  • In rural low-income areas, awareness of the extent of a concern or problem encourages individuals to take action. As health literacy is an issue among such populations, advertising should be designed in such a way that the locals get to understand the need and urgency to take necessary actions.
  • Individuals in rural areas are motivated to take action on matters when communication/ advertising takes into account their locality. For instance, individuals will most likely act on issues addressed at an event that promotes local traditions and celebrates their locality.

Barriers to Healthy Living in Rural, Low-Income Populations.

  • Rural low-income populations in American face barriers such as lack of access to health insurance, transportation challenges, and low levels of health literacy among them.
  • A 2018 report on Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, found that 9.1% of the population living outside metropolitan areas do not have any type of health insurance.
  • A brief from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation also found 26.5% of uninsured rural residents cited costs as the primary reason for delay receiving healthcare.
  • Rural residents’ access to health care is further compounded by the limited supply of rural healthcare providers (compared to urban settings) who offer low-cost or charity healthcare.
  • Poor health literacy is likely to be common in rural areas with higher incidences of poverty and low education levels. It impacts on residents’ ability to understand and utilize health information, instructions, and other resources.
  • Research shows that 17.6 million Americans lack access to healthy foods, the majority of whom come from rural low-income populations. Retailers of things like fruits and vegetables are not attracted to these places. Residents have to travel long distances to get to grocery stores.
  • Rural families can live in areas where there are few grocery stores or other sources of healthy food.
  • Other barriers include provider shortages, long-distance travel to providers as well as the recent closure of hospitals.
  • In some rural areas, there are limited affordable, reliable, or public transportation means for individuals. Additionally, “increased public or semi public transportation to shopping centers are difficult to support in areas with few people and long distances between homes, and attracting new stores to open in rural areas with few people to support them is often financially untenable.”
  • Due to low income, individuals in rural areas have little to no money to spare for the subscription of health facilities and programs such as physical fitness centers, and consultations with specialists (such as nutritionists), among others.
  • According to a publication by Altarum, “geographical distances between the home and opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating can place a time and cost burden on families, and rural areas often have limited private and public health care opportunities that give access to childhood obesity interventions.”

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Negative Reactions to Campaigns

There are some case studies available that have received negative feedback from rural, lower income customers in the past few years such as the campaign in South Dakota for meth addiction awareness.

Case Study 1: South Dakota’s “Meth. We’re on it” Campaign

  • South Dakota Governor Kristi L. Noem launched a campaign to raise awareness against meth addiction.
  • The campaign cost almost $449,000.
  • The campaign features the slogan “Meth. I’m on it,” claiming that the problem is being addressed.
  • There was a backlash due to the wording of the campaign, which can be understood to mean that the state of South Dakota is using meth.
  • The use of a double entendre, if intentional, was a bold choice and did not sit well with some residents of the state.
  • There was a mixed reaction to the campaign and it was negatively received by the state’s residents.
  • Governor Noem claims the aim was to raise awareness and start a conversation, which was achieved but not in the way that was initially anticipated.

Case Study 2: Sandy Hook Promise PSA

  • Advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise launched an ad campaign showcasing the dangers children face in school shootings.
  • The campaign features children preparing to go back to school and preparing to potentially face school shooting incidents.
  • The campaign also shows how children have to deal with gun violence issues and survive in case of such emergencies.
  • The campaign got mixed reactions with some calling it shocking and disturbing while others praised it for boldly tackling a difficult topic.
  • Some viewers thought it was too graphic and scared children from going to school.
  • The campaign was arguably successful as it raised awareness about the issue of gun violence and school shootings and made an emotionally compelling argument for more gun safety laws.

Research Strategy:

We were unable to identify a second case study that targeted the specific demographic. We searched through various media sites and publications such as Washington Post and New York Times. Although we were able to find some examples of campaigns that were met with negative feedback, most of them did not specifically target rural or low-income customers.