Improving Hand Hygiene through Visual Advertising – Campaign Outcomes and Next Steps

Jan 13, 2017 | Anastasia Sonneman

By Kyle Foerst, M.S., Emergency Response Planner, Saint Louis County Department of Public Health

Nearly three month have passed since the launch of Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s (SLCDPH) “Dirty Hands can be Scary!” campaign (originally introduced in an earlier blog post). Part of a grant-funded project to increase hand hygiene awareness, this initiative places emphasis on how hand-washing can reduce and prevent the spread of common illnesses, such as seasonal influenza.

The image-based campaign was created to re-energize outdated health promotion advertising by developing new, visually stimulating designs targeting the attention of parents, children, and travelers. By using a combination of enhanced outdoor advertisements and digital promotion through a complementary microsite, SLCDPH aims to improve public education efforts around the importance of proper hand-washing.

Since its initial kickoff, this campaign has been widely received both in Saint Louis County and by audiences across the nation. The next two sections expand on key outcomes behind the project’s very successful first two months. These are followed by a concluding summary of next steps SLCDPH is planning to ensure the campaign’s continued progress.

Current Outcomes – Local Promotion

Two local transit agencies, including the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport and MetroLink Transportation became central to the campaign’s local promotion efforts. By partnering with these organizations, SLCDPH negotiated the placement of campaign visuals in numerous highly visible locations, regularly attracting a high number of target audience members. The following print advertisements were debuted at the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport in October 2016 and across MetroLink transit hubs and vehicles in November 2016:

  • Five internal displays at the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport, including four backlit dioramas (pictured above, to the right), plus one LCD display near the entrance to the Metrolink train station.
  • 20 exterior MetroLink transportation displays, including eight buses, four bus shelters (one of which is pictured below, to the left), four windscreens, and four train displays.
  • 550 interior MetroLink Transportation displays, including 400 “bus cards,” located above the driver, sized 17×11; and 150 “train rider alerts,” placed next to train doors, sized 11×17.

Photo Credit: Scott Nyberg, Kelly Pottorf, Sheila Hockel

Advertisements featured in the airport and MetroLink transport will run until March 2017, for a combined duration of five months. During this time period, they are estimated to receive over 80 million views based on statistics measuring marketing reach across the various locations. The five visuals in the airport alone will likely be seen an estimated 11.8 million times by 4.2 million passengers, while MetroLink’s combined exterior and interior advertisements are predicted to receive an additional 73 million views.

SLCDPH also targeted the area’s schools as a part of its local promotion strategy. Outreach efforts began by sending 96 campaign posters (one set of four per district) to all 24 school districts within Saint Louis County. This promoted numerous schools to express additional interest, collectively requesting another 480 posters. As a result, the total number of distributed posters grew by exactly six times, going from 96 to 576.

Current Outcomes –Digital Outreach

The campaign’s digital outreach is driven mainly through its complementary microsite. As of January 3, 2017, 740 people representing 25 states and 24 counties have visited the site, with over half using it more than once. In total, this group viewed the site 1,207 times, both as new and returning users. The microsite has also substantially increased accessibility to campaign materials by allowing users to request free digital copies of various visuals. To date, 43 campaign posters have been sent in response to requests made through the site.

In an effort to widen its scope, SLCDPH also reached out to NACCHO for additional support. So far, NACCHO boosted campaign visibility with an additional reach of over 3,000 individuals through promotion via The Essential Elements of Local Public Health blog, social media channels, and e-newsletters. NACCHO continues to support SLCDPH in promoting this campaign, through this blog post and additional communication efforts planned later this year.

Next Steps

Recently, SLCDPH established another promotional partnership with the Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand Washing (PPPHW). PPPHW has agreed to highlight the campaign on their resources webpage and social media channels. Additionally, campaign materials will be included in organizational resources sent in response to requests related to hand-washing promotional advertisements. PPPHW also committed to sharing the campaign with other national public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cleaning Institute (ACI).

Finally, SLCDPH secured additional grant funding, which allowed for the purchase of over 1,300 bottles of hand-sanitizer featuring campaign graphics (pictured above on the on the right). A dissemination plan for the local community is underway to provide these products as an added incentive for parents and children to implement proper hand sanitization practices.

More Information

Whether in the Saint Louis area or not, local health departments and partners are highly encouraged to use this campaign to emphasize the power of hand hygiene in preventing the flu and other illnesses! Get started by visiting the campaign website and contact Kyle Foerst with any additional questions.


About Anastasia Sonneman

More posts by Anastasia Sonneman

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