Creating social marketing for community partner

Student-produced oral health poster.

Proposed poster.
Courtesy of Sandy Centeno.

The “tooth be told,” University of Washington Bothell students gave a dental health foundation some creative ideas for a social media marketing campaign.

“Tooth be told” could be a slogan they might use, said Laura Flores Cantrell, health equity lead strategist for Arcora, the nonprofit foundation funded by Delta Dental, one of the largest dental benefits companies in Washington.

It was fun to see the new ideas and enthusiasm, said Nancy Hammond, Arcora’s communications manager, after a “pitch party” Dec. 14 when 13 teams of students presented their marketing plans.

Arcora has run its Mighty Mouth campaign since 2013 to promote dental health as a key to overall health. UW Bothell students were asked for new ideas to reach Latina mothers, low-income pregnant women and mothers with lower literacy skills. Because data show disparities for these groups, it’s an audience Arcora really wants to reach, Hammond said.

“The goal is to encourage pregnant women to get dental care during pregnancy and to encourage moms to make sure their baby has an oral health screening by their first birthday,” Hammond said.

From left, Jody Early, Lauren Berliner, Nancy Hammond

Jody Early, left, Lauren Berliner, Nancy Hammond
(Marc Studer photos)

The course, Principles of Health Education and Communication, was a joint effort of Jody Early, an associate professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, and Lauren Berliner, an assistant professor of media and communication, and cultural studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences.

Arcora’s mission and approach to health promotion align well with what UW Bothell is trying to achieve, said Early who knows Cantrell through the UW Latino Center for Health.

“We are striving to help our students better understand how solving ‘real-world’ problems requires cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration,” said Early.

Class pitches campaigns to foundation.

Thirteen teams pitched marketing campaigns.

The class was framed as if the students were part of a social-issues media marketing firm working with a client, said Berliner. They produced tangible media.

“We got a chance to do things we’ve never done before” — such as present to a partner, said Xinming (Kelly) Ji, a media and communication studies student aiming to graduate in June, who admitted to feeling nervous about presenting.

“Doing the pitch was an eye-opening experience,” said Charity Akhidenor, a health studies major planning to graduate in 2019.

Proposed comic. By Marc Barconi.

Proposed comic.
Courtesy of Marc Barconi

The course was an elective for the new minor in health education and promotion and a new upper-level applied course for media and communication studies majors.

Cantrell and Hammond gave each team constructive feedback about their presentation.

“We see it as an opportunity to share our experiences and provide the students with some real-world challenges, while at the same time inviting new concepts,” Hammond said.

As part of their comprehensive marketing campaigns, students proposed posters, flyers and fact sheets that could be distributed in clinics, stores and libraries. They also proposed messages and infographics for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Other suggestions included a new mother keepsake book with oral health reminders and putting information on stickers or magnets. One team suggested printing information on tote bags for mothers to receive at prenatal checkups with a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss inside. Others thought of reaching out to midwives and doulas, asking them to start the dental discussion. Several produced videos or comics. Someone drew up a poster for the scary movie, “Baby got plaque! The unseen attack of plaque, a messenger of evil!”

A few of the “sticky message” slogans:

  • Healthy mouth for moms, healthy start for babies
  • Pass on your beautiful smile. Visit your dentist. Pasa La sonrisa. Visita tu dentista.
  • Healthy teeth for mommy and me
  • Happy mommy, happy baby! Feliz mama, bebe feliz!
  • Floss daily to protect your baby.
  • Get to the dentist early to keep their teeth pearly.
  • Dales agua, dales vida! Give them water, give them life! (Promoting tap water with fluoride over sugary drinks)
  • Tooth be told: Dentistry is not always costly, but neglect is.

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