obesity issues into its content, including the promotion of positive role models.
The committee acknowledges that as a component of the DHHS Steps to a HealthierUS Cooperative Agreement Program (Steps Program), DHHS partnered with the Ad Council to create SmallStep and SmallStep Kids!, which target parents, teens, and children and which includes public service advertisements (PSAs), a public relations campaign, a health care provider’s tool kit, and consumer information materials. The component targeted to children includes games and activities, television advertisements, and links to other materials. In addition to the advertising components, the Ad Council plans to implement a curriculum-based program with a major educational partner to educate children about the importance of healthy lifestyles and anticipates expanding the program through additional partnerships.
Case Study of the VERB™ Campaign
The VERB™ campaign, coordinated by CDC from FY 2001 through 2006, was a 5-year, national, multicultural, social marketing initiative designed to increase and maintain physical activity among 21 million U.S. tweens (children ages 9–13 years) (Huhman et al., 2004; Wong et al., 2004). The national program initially included augmented media in selected markets where local coalitions coordinated community activities to complement the media campaign. Beginning in the second year, national marketing promotions were initiated that invited schools and communities to participate in the campaign. Parents and other intermediaries that influence tweens (e.g., teachers and youth program leaders) were secondary target audiences of the campaign. The VERB campaign is an example of behavioral branding, which raises the awareness of a brand that encourages a behavior or lifestyle such as increased physical activity. The primary goal during the first year of the campaign was to build brand awareness among tweens followed by messaging that encouraged them to find “their verb” and become physically active. All forms of media (e.g., television, print, the Internet) were used to reach tweens of various racial/ethnic groups. The campaign combined paid advertising, modern media marketing strategies, and partnerships to reach the distinct audiences of young people and their adult influencers.
Before CDC launched the 5-year youth media campaign, VERB—It’s what you do.—it used exploratory research techniques to gain insights into a variety of factors relevant to understanding how to increase and maintain physical activity levels in the multiethnic U.S. tweens. Formative research was conducted with the target group to inform the design of the social marketing campaign. The research showed that tweens would respond positively to messages that promoted physical activities that are fun, occur in a socially inclusive environment and that emphasize self-