Case Study


Pro Bono PSA Puts New Spin on Teen Pregnancy Prevention When a California-based communications agency specializing in highly technical industries temporarily stepped away from its usual clientele to enter the realm of teen pregnancy and Spin-the-Bottle, the result was a $42,000 PSA campaign that cost the client only $1,500. Point B, which typically works with clients who produce dermatology products, software and medical devices, last year offered its services pro bono to the Camp Fire Boys and Girlsr of Orange County (Calif.) for its pregnancy prevention campaign. The firm enlisted the help of production and video duplication companies and teenage actors, all of whom volunteered their time. Initial Involvement Point B became involved in the campaign because employees wanted to have an impact on their community, says Gala Struthers, Point B account director and a Camp Fire volunteer, who spearheaded the operation. The "Games" PSA that Point B produced was targeted to boys ages 12-14. California has one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation with 70,000 babies born to teen mothers in 1995, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. It recorded 4,800 births to teen moms that year. Camp Fire wanted to change that sexual behavior by focusing on the young males, hoping to help foster a healthier attitude toward women and responsibility in relationships before they grew old enough to father children, says Orange County Camp Fire director Todd Hanson. Struthers didn't have to work hard convincing others in her company to donate their time. Many were attracted to the creative challenge. "Part of the reason why so many came on board was because it was so different, fun and not like what we do normally," says Struthers. Point B worked with Lyon Studios to produce one television and two radio PSAs for a total of $1,500, the amount in Camp Fire's budget. The radio PSAs were recorded in English and Spanish and received air time on at least five California FM radio stations. The television version ran on cable stations. The PSA earned a 1998 Clio Finalist award in the television/cinema category for sound design. Gathering the Troops Crafting a message that would resonate with the teenage boys in their target audience wasn't the hard part, says Struthers. Budgeting the project for $1,500 was the greatest challenge. Point B had worked with Lyon Studios on other accounts, so Struthers was able to make the most of the relationship. She also persuaded Ve and Associates, another Point B contact, to duplicate the PSAs at no charge. "They all knew that to truly do it and do it right, we needed all parties working pro bono," Struthers says. It took her six months to assemble the players before filming could begin. The piece also had to be filmed on a date that didn't interfere with other Lyons' business, Struthers says. Non-Patronizing Focus The video PSA has the feel of an MTV video. It features kids lounging around in a circle, leaning on each other. Potato chips and snacks are scattered around the room. A bottle spins in the center of the floor while the voice of an unseen teen whispers over and over "Just do it." The camera flashes to bare skin and lips, then zooms in on the bottle which turns into a baby's bottle as a boy grasps it. "It is implying that you [the male] are responsible," Struthers says. Lyon's Marvin McNeil spent more than 100 hours recording and manipulating the sound on the PSAs. He also was driven by the creative aspect of the project. "I was able to go on my own; no one gave me any direction," said McNeil, chief engineer, video and sound editor at Lyon. "We are a service industry. Most of the time you please someone else. It is neat to please yourself and have someone like what you have done." McNeil collected sound from his friends' 1980s jam sessions and combined it with recordings of the teen volunteers. Instead of using the bulk of scripts read by teens, he caught them talking off guard in the hall and used that audio. The result is a PSA that is "very contemporary in the look and pace it moves at," says Hanson. "I think it pulls attention in because it makes people wonder what's going on. You don't often see a commercial with spin-the-bottle, and of course the narration is very alluring." History The video/audio project was a first for Lyon, Camp Fire and Point B. In another 1997 campaign, Camp Fire worked with Coalition Children Adolescents and Parents (CCAP) on a print initiative with billboards, direct mail and newspaper ads promoting the Men's Action Project, CCAP's educational forums for youth and men addressing sexuality and parenting. That project was an in-house operation, however. This year Point B is offering pro bono advertising and research for Discovery Science Center, Newport Beach, which is geared towards kids and opens Dec. 19. "I hope the opportunity arises again," McNeil says. "You don't get too many of those where. it's the right time and right place for all of it to happen." (Gala Struthers, Point B, 949/851-9563; Marvin McNeil, Lyon Studios, 949/675-4790; Todd Hanson, Camp Fire Boys and Girls Orange County, 714/838-9991; http://www.campfire.org) Point B HQ: Newport Beach, Calif. Employees: 16 Billings April '97-March '98: $2 Key players: Clay Daniells, creative director, Judy Lee, art director, Gala Struthers, account executive Other campaigns: Secure Horizons, Staar Surgical, Metigenics, EPC, Markzware Lyon Studios HQ: Newport Beach Key players: Marvin McNeil, chief engineer/video editor/sound designer, Craig Barker, director cinematography, Bill Wiles, producer Other campaigns: National Car Rental, Pirelli Tires, Dr. Scholl's

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