Redesigning the White House Anti-Drug Website
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Redesigning the White House Anti-Drug Website

FH was faced with redesigning Freevibe based on the feedback and experiences of the original site to improve its ability to reach tweens and teens and to take the Campaign’s online outreach to new levels.

Paul Holmes

In 1998, Fleishman-Hillard (FH) was selected by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to manage the communications component of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to reach a diverse audience of America’s youth and educate them to reject illicit drugs.  To reach our youth audience with drug prevention messages online, FH originally launched Freevibe (http://www.freevibe.com) in March 1999 with Campaign partner ABC/Disney and experienced some success reaching tweens.  ABC/Disney redirected their resources for the Campaign later that year and FH was faced with redesigning Freevibe based on the feedback and experiences of the original site to improve its ability to reach tweens and teens and to take the Campaign’s online outreach to new levels. 
 
OBJECTIVES:
 
Objective 1:  Redesign and relaunch Freevibe to capture a larger segment of the tween/teen audience, boost traffic and increase the site’s “stickiness” from 1999. 
Objective 2:  Build an online community for teens that capitalizes on peer-to-peer communication strategies to change attitudes and behaviors among the target audience.
Objective 3:  Raise the visibility of Freevibe and syndicate drug prevention messages online.
 
RESULTS:
 
Objective 1:  Redesign and relaunch Freevibe, to capture a larger audience, boosting traffic and stickiness.
FH relaunched Freevibe in April 2000 in partnership with Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment (SPDE).  The new partner’s broad entertainment content, combined with ONDCP’s drug prevention expertise, significantly changed the breadth and depth of the Web site and enhanced its appeal to a larger segment of the youth population, including tweens who aspire up.  FH capitalized on the Sony brand and design expertise while creating new content offerings incorporating Campaign messages for youth.  Using a vibrant design strategy and an array of features like Freevibe Radio, fresh entertainment content, celebrity profiles and drug prevention news targeted specifically to tween and teen audiences, FH and SPDE reintroduced Freevibe with a new energy and revitalized purpose. 
 
With the relaunch of Freevibe, site traffic has exploded from an average of 350,000 page views per month to 740,000 page views per month.  To date, time visits to the site have averaged at 10 minutes per visit, an extraordinary amount of time for teens. 
 
Objective 2:  To build an online community for teens
Freevibe employs a number of interactive site tools such as weekly polls, message boards and Buzz Bombs (anti-drug e-cards available for kids to send to friends) to provide an opportunity for site visitors to be active participants in the Media Campaign.  Celebrity profiles, as well as stories about ordinary teens, help kids see the importance of a drug-free life for personal success and entice repeat visits to the site.  Freevibe also offers teens the chance to provide input, review ideas and supply online content through the I-Count Advisors, a diverse group of 9-18 year olds who serve as voluntary advisors to the Campaign.
 
Qualitative success is measured by the level of participation in Bulletin Boards, with submissions averaging 200 per day and weekly polls averaging 300 votes per week.  Freevibe receives an average of 300 requests for information per week through the site’s “Contact Us” function.  Drug-specific questions are fielded by experts from the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information, ensuring that site visitors with an active interest in the issue are responded to in a timely and thorough manner.
 
Objective 3:  To raise the visibility of Freevibe and syndicate drug prevention messages online.
Through an extensive promotion effort, FH has syndicated Freevibe’s messages where youth are spending their time on the Web.  Placements and partnerships have more than doubled with strategic content hits on sites such as LycosZone.com, BeautyQ.com, MSNBC.com’s Pencil News, Dawson’s Desktop, About.com’s teen sites and many more, raising the visibility of Freevibe and surrounding kids online with the drug prevention message wherever they surf the Web.  Offline outreach has included placements in Cosmo Girl and USA Today.  Freevibe online partnerships and placements have resulted in a total of more than 53 million impressions for the Media Campaign in 2000.
 
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