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In spring 2009, a new, powerful strain of the flu virus began to spread rapidly throughout the U.S. The Washington State Department of Health turned to GMMB for communications support to educate residents about preventative measures to avoid catching and spreading H1N1.
In fall 2009, GMMB launched an integrated campaign urging Washington State residents to take key preventive steps, including washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes, staying home when you’re sick and most importantly, getting the H1N1 vaccine. GMMB launched the campaign with a series of paid online, print, radio, tranist and TV ads targeted at adults between the ages of 18 and 49, with an emphasis on mothers who often make the family health care decisions. In fall 2010, as H1N1 threat levels began to decline, the campaign evolved to adopt a lighter tone while continuing to address important flu prevention measures. The campaign’s second iteration, "WashYourHandsington,” used a 1950s tourism theme and humor to engage audiences and remind them how to stay safe. The campaign included print materials; online, radio and transit ads; a website landing page and an online video.
The award-winning campaign has helped prevent the spread of H1N1 in Washington State. Audience recall of both radio and TV ads were well above industry standards and among those who saw the ads, 58 percent saidthe ads assisted in their health decision making. The TV spot won a silver ADDY award and—in less than two months—the “WashYourHandsington” online video received nearly 40,000 hits. The campaign has been featured on prominent websites, the George Lopez show and has generated significant earned media coverage.