Ever wonder what Colorado kids suffer most from? The answer may surprise you. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease of childhood and a leading reason for ER visits. According to State of Colorado child oral health statistics, 40% of kindergartners and 55% of third-graders have tooth decay. This epidemic hits Hispanic children and kids from low-income families especially hard even though it is largely preventable.
That’s where our client, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, comes in. A few years ago, the non-profit Foundation shared a vision of eradicating tooth decay among Colorado’s children. Our work has been deeply rooted in research and data from a variety of topics and sources such as:
- Medical and dental professions
- Statewide Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data
- Public will building and behavior change best practices
- In-depth target audience research
- Concept and message testing
The resulting “Cavities Get Around” campaign initially focused on raising awareness of the impacts of juice and other sugary drinks on child oral health. Over time, the campaign broadened to include community organizing, promoters and police change. Extensive target audience research informed campaign messaging and strategy. Notably, the campaign’s key messages:
- Baby teeth matter because cavities can spread to adult teeth
- Sugar fuels bacteria that cause cavities
- Drinking water only between meals and at bedtime protects kids’ teeth
The fully integrated campaign aired on broadcast television and radio, along with outdoor, digital media and an interactive website. Social media, grassroots events and earned media strategies deployed to expand the reach of the campaign and engage with our target audience. Final creative executions of the campaign included a sugar troll-themed TV spot and a series of videos exposing the amount of sugar in juice. The campaign also benefitted from dynamic and passionate partners who worked tirelessly to spread the messages.
And the results are in…
A random-digit dial phone survey of 600 low-income, English- and Spanish-speaking families across Colorado recently revealed significant progress toward our goals. First of all, the campaign messages are being heard–an astounding 39% of respondents recalled the campaign. (Not to brag or anything, but that’s similar to national car brands who have a whole lot more media, money, partners, time in market, etc.) And most of all, our key messages are gaining traction. Compared to our baseline survey:
- Watershed Moment. More kids are drinking tap water, which helps prevent tooth decay when fluoridated. 63% of respondents said their children regularly drink tap water, a 22-percentage point increase from 2014.
- Juice Myth Debunked.Those who felt ‘juice was important to their child’s health and nutrition’ fell 29 points to 43%, compared to 72% in 2014.
- Another Sweet Learning? Juice consumption among children is down 19 percentage points from 66% in 2014 to 47% today.
- Baby Teeth Matter More. The percentage of parents who consider baby teeth to be “less important” than adult teeth declined by 28. And 71% of respondents knew that cavities in baby teeth can spread.
Inspired by the promise of these results, we will continue our efforts to improve the oral health of the smallest Coloradans and give our clients, partners and the community something big to smile about.