A social norms marketing campaign for reducing underage drinking among high school students in Washakie County, WY. A brand, logo, and multi-media tools were created for this campaign, and the brand is extendable to other future community health and safety efforts.
It's Who We Are
The Washakie Prevention Coalition (WPC) in Washakie County Wyoming partnered with the Center for Health and Safety Culture in the development of a social norms marketing campaign to reduce underage drinking.
Washakie County prevention leaders identified a gap between how often high school students drink, and their perceptions of how often their peers drink. Knowing that these misperceptions (or over estimations of alcohol use) could increase the likelihood of Washakie high school students using alcohol, the WPC engaged the Center to create a social norms marketing campaign aimed at growing protective beliefs and behaviors among high school youth to reduce underage drinking.
The Center and the WPC had already been working together to improve youth outcomes in the community. The coalition had hosted an on-site Positive Culture Framework (PCF) training and was engaged in Guide Service with the Center. Through Guide Service, the local youths’ misperceptions about the alcohol use of their peers were realized, and the need for the social norms marketing campaign to reduce underage drinking became clear.
Through the 7-Step Communication Process of the Positive Culture Framework, the Center worked with the WPC to plan, assess their current culture, identify the gaps that existed between actual and perceived norms, determine if a social norms campaign was justified, and then develop the campaign in partnership with the coalition and the communities of Washakie County.
A coordinator in Washakie County described how the Positive Culture Framework helped them in the development of their social norms campaign: “The Positive Culture Framework has assisted in all of the development of the "It's Who We Are" campaign. It has helped us create a language around positive reinforcement when it comes to substance abuse in our community. It has provided support with a timeline and all of the essential materials needed to create a positive impact in our community. It has helped us reduce barriers by providing many different ways to view positive messages.”
The “It’s Who We Are” social norms campaign was created to engage not only high school youth but others across the community (parents, school staff, law enforcement, etc.) with tools and information about preventing underage drinking and to build on the positive and healthy beliefs and behaviors that already exist among Washakie youth. Involving other members of the community to support these efforts and cultivate the strengths of Washakie youth is a deliberate strategy to achieve longer-term sustainability of the efforts, a strategy the Center refers to as working across the social ecology.
“It’s Who We Are” highlights the positive beliefs and behaviors that high school students in Washakie County already have regarding underage drinking. When the accurate or normative positive characteristics of youth are highlighted, the misperceptions or inaccurate beliefs and ultimately behaviors are reduced. And when these beliefs and behaviors are highlighted across the different sectors of the community, an entire culture reinforces the positive beliefs and behaviors whereby these beliefs and behaviors grow momentum and sustainability.
“It’s Who We Are” campaign materials developed include posters, table tents, banners, a newspaper ad, a press release, a letter for parents, videos, and radio scripts. In addition, tools to help different sectors of the community (levels of the social ecology) were developed to focus on reducing underage drinking and strengthening protective factors of youth. To build local capacity and encourage widespread engagement, the Center trained the WPC on how to use the campaign tools and media and how to engage in local conversations about underage drinking.
“I get excited to see how our conversations around substance abuse can change into actual outcomes around substance abuse. I'm excited to see how this will play out for our community.” ~ Coordinator in Washakie County