Multimedia Campaign Review: Will 2Min2x day work?

By Kara Monson, Senior Account Executive

In reading some of the latest news articles, I was very interested in a New York Times piece this week discussing the Advertising Council’s new multimedia campaign targeted to improve oral health for children.  While I’m not a parent myself, this really got me thinking. Here’s a snapshot:

Target Audience: Parents and caregivers particularly in lower income families, in English and Spanish.

Objective: Encourage children to take 2 minutes, 2 times a day to brush their teeth.

Media: The campaign includes radio, print ads, and a website with video links to 2 minute videos. The idea is that the parent can play the videos to entice children to watch a cartoon on a mobile device while brushing their teeth. On the website there’s also information about brushing, flossing and other dental care.

Strategy: The campaign plays to emotions of a parent who don’t want their child(ren) to experience pain due to lack of oral care. With the parent’s assistance, the children can choose from 14 different videos that could play while brushing their teeth twice daily.

Why this could work: Rewarding children for doing a routine activity could be a positive reinforcement to take care of their teeth by watching a video.  With the appropriate parental communication to their children to help explain the reason why taking care of teeth is important, this combined with the website and videos could have some impact. Beginning at a young age, oral care is very important especially in lower-incomes families where long term health problems could arise including obesity and heart disease.

Some shortcomings: The 2 minute videos themselves do not have anything to do with oral care instructions whatsoever. Since young children cannot likely read the website content, the campaign relies heavily on a parent or caregiver’s explanation after reading the information and then reinforcing those messages to their children.  There could be all kinds of pitfalls with having a smartphone or laptop near where the child is brushing their teeth: water, toothpaste spilling, etc. Otherwise, the child could be going into an office or computer room where the same eventuality could occur without supervision.

After all, is bribery by technology the best way to get kids to do something as necessary as tooth brushing? Is multitasking with teeth brushing the right message for children? Could this be a stalling tactic, especially before bedtime because the goal becomes entertainment instead of the task at hand? And finally, in lower income families might it be too much to assume a mobile device like a smartphone is even present in the household to watch these videos?

While I love a clever campaign and the print ads are attention-getting, I have my doubts that this campaign execution will have the response they are looking for. As it stands now only a handful of the videos have been watched. What do you think? Is this an example of an effective campaign?