To spread the news, the ABC is giving laptop computers to 200 community health volunteers who will visit popular meeting places, including barbershops and churches, where they will also take blood pressure readings and give one-on-one advice. The slickly produced video segments focus on the ABC's "Seven Steps to Good Health," including advice about diet, exercise, and smoking cessation tailored for the African-American community. The mortality rate from heart disease is 23% higher among African-Americans than the population at large.
The strategy has a couple of advantages: the video messages don't require installed video equipment; they are reinforced and elaborated through personal contact; and they benefit from the positive associations of the specific locations.
The new strategy for public health advocacy comes as marketers are beginning to reach minority audiences through some of the same venues. In late September, Alloy Media + Marketing's urban and multicultural division, Alloy Access, announced the launch of an out-of-home ad network targeting African-American and Hispanic consumers via barbershops and salons. The barbershop and salon agreement with the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association opens up potential relationships with all 1,700 of its members. At launch, the network includes 400 venues in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Alloy plans to double this number by the end of 2008.