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In Omaha, sexually transmitted infections are “open for business”

In Omaha, sexually transmitted infections are “open for business”

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The fake brand/ad campaign is an old favourite of advertising people everywhere, because it allows us to laugh at ourselves. In this case, it was for a cause.

The “STDs open for business” campaign is a pro-bono effort by Serve, an all-volunteer advertising agency. (Which is a concept I’ve wanted to launch for years — good on you for beating me to it!)

It’s an awareness campaign, which means it can only really expect to stir conversation among youth in Omaha and beyond. But as publicity stunts go, this one is pretty elaborate, with outdoor ads, viral videos, social media, and even storefronts:

Great fun. But can it make a difference?

“This has been a closeted issue in Omaha for decades,” explains Serve Volunteer Creative Director, Gary Mueller. “If we want to ultimately lower the STD rate and change people’s behaviors, we need to bebolder and more aggressive about getting people to talk about the issue. We think this will get people talking.”

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It certainly got the ad industry talking, with mentions in popular adblogs and AdFreak. And here, of course.

I think it’s a solid campaign for putting STIs top-of-mind. I’d also like to know how people dealing with infections feel about having their very private problems parodied so publicly, but it seems that Omaha is in the middle of an epidemic.

From the press release:

The effort, which is led by the Women’s Fund of Omaha, whose new Adolescent Health Project is working to curb STDs in Omaha, is in response to Omaha’s shockingly high STD rate. For over a decade, Omaha has been reported to have some of the highest STD rates in the nation. A report released by The Douglas County Health Department last month showed infections continue to rise and are now at historic levels. Cases of gonorrhea and syphilis are up by 15 and 23 percent, respectively. And Chlamydia reached an all-time high in 2014 with 3,390 reported cases. These numbers are highest among those ages 15 to 24.

One last thing: Could the “Open For Business” parody idea have been inspired by a PSA parody that once appeared on That ’70s Show?

Client: Get Checked Omaha
Agency: Serve Marketing
CD: Gary Mueller
AD: Matt Herrmann/Carsyn McKenzie
Copy: Nick Pipitone

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more