Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in England and is particularly prevalent in young people. Yet only 20 percent of local authorities in England met the annual detection targets set by Public Health England and testing rates are particularly low in the 16-24 age range. BD, a global medical technology company which produces chlamydia tests, challenged APCO to develop a campaign to reverse this trend.
APCO partnered with the East Riding of Yorkshire (an area with particularly low testing rates) and its sexual healthcare service, Conifer, to create a pilot campaign. Our research about the interests and habits of our target audience – young people aged 16 to 24 in this local authority – informed our digital strategy, which was to use humour and popular youth culture to raise awareness of chlamydia screening.
We engaged former Love Island contestant, Dr Alex George, an NHS doctor who frequently covers health and wellbeing topics on his social media profiles and has over 1.3m followers on Instagram. APCO created a social media content calendar for Instagram and Twitter to coincide with both the end of Love Island in August and Sexual Health Awareness Month in September – taking common Love Island phrases and adapting them to the topic of sexual health to maximise engagement. We worked with Dr George to develop a series of Instagram clips talking about the importance of getting tested, the services Conifer provides and a link to the testing site in each of his stories. APCO also contacted Hull University’s student union, which agreed to support and share our content.
This campaign significantly exceeded our client’s expectations. The social media campaign resulted in over 775k impressions and 25k video views. On Instagram, our posts were shared a total of 125 times and we increased the account’s following by 140 percent. In August (usually a quiet month), 582 tests were requested – a significant increase from the 244 tests ordered in June. The number increased to 606 tests in September. Based on the success of this campaign, APCO is now creating a toolkit for Public Health England and our client hopes to replicate this success in other areas of England.