Alberta Health Services
Plenty of Syph
A mock dating site where you can catch the STI of your dreams.
With casual sex feeling as casual as ever, the risks of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) weren’t being considered enough by young people. And cases of syphilis were on a serious rise in Alberta.
We needed to establish syphilis as an emerging, prevalent STI. We also needed to encourage young people to consider, then change their sexual behaviours — and get tested for STIs as a whole.
The audience needed to overcome their, “Yeah, but that doesn’t happen to people like me” attitude. So we developed a strategy to encourage our audience to consider whether their next sexual partner might have syphilis or another STI.
A mock dating site — plentyofsyph.com — was created to showcase the promiscuous, casual behaviour towards sex, so prevalent with online dating sites.
like a moth to a flame
We drove people to plentyofsyph.com through online ads and late-night TV commercials by mimicking the sexy draw of dating site ads. Our target audience was both entertained and disturbed by the parody and irony of the campaign. We even mocked up new incoming messages inviting site visitors to hear more steamy, sexy stuff about syphilis.
After the campaign launch nurses said they “suddenly went nuts at the clinic.” Visits to STI clinics were up 17% compared to the same time in the year previous, an increase of 1,390 people. And many Alberta physicians reported more patients starting discussions about syphilis and other STIs during visits.
The campaign had robust social and mass media strategies. When the campaign launched, social media instantly lit up. People would contact their friends and ask “is it possible I just saw an ad for a dating site for people with syphilis?” Mass media were generous in their commentary. CTV said they had never seen such a ripple effect from a campaign.
We do a lot of this.
We spend a lot of time working with social behaviour change organizations. Come take a look.