It’s Important, It’s Easy, It’s Time

Next year, Es Tiempo, a multi-faceted cervical cancer awareness and support campaign is expected to begin a pilot rollout in Los Angeles.

The broad-based communications and outreach campaign—the result of an award-winning Designmatters studio project—will encourage Latinas to seek out early cervical cancer screenings.

A collaboration between Designmatters, USC’s Keck School of Medicine and USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Es Tiempo was led by the College’s Advertising Department, including lead faculty Elena Salij and Maria Moon.

Students Phillip An (Illustration), Mark Brinn (Graphic Design), Chris Lack (Graphic Design), Tracy Hung (Graphic Design), Haelee Kang (Graphic Design), Lucia Loiso (Photography and Imaging) and Camille Ontiveros (Fine Art) were challenged to create communications to persuade Latinas in Los Angeles’ underserved communities to comply with clinical guidelines for cervical-cancer screening.

The students began their research broadly: by visiting the USC/Norris Cancer Center, visiting local clinics and studying the visual and material culture of East LA. On the basis of this early research, the students created ‘rapid prototypes’ of their preliminary ideas.

Researchers at USC Annenberg School of Communications conducted focus groups with at-risk Latinas, and their findings brought the challenge into focus. Contrary to the class’ expectations, awareness of the pap test and its importance was not the fundamental problem: virtually all the women knew what a pap test was, and that they should be screened regularly. However, the barriers—cultural, institutional, and practical—were many and varied from a disinclination to discuss medical matters in general to a distrust of physicians and lack of relationship with a primary care physician.

Given the number and complexity of the obstacles it was determined that a simple advertising campaign wouldn’t be enough: a more elaborate integrated communications program, knocking down as many barriers as possible, was required. The students settled on a three-part program.

Salience and Way-Finding
The first part of the campaign links the jacaranda tree, the purple-flowered tree that blooms in Southern California and in Central and South America, to screening: posters, video, and radio advertising remind women that “when the jacaranda tree blooms, it’s time to schedule your pap test.” Maps and environmental graphics—again, featuring the jacaranda tree logo—direct women to local clinics where they can obtain low- and no-cost pap tests. All are signed with the tag line “Es Importante, Es Facil, Es Tiempo” (“It’s Important, It’s Easy, It’s Time”).

To ease the financial burden of missing work during screening, students devised the Es Tiempo VISA Gift Card: when a woman gets her pap test, her card is credited with $20; when she calls back to obtain her test results, her card is credited with another $10; if she persuades a friend to get a pap test, her card is credited with another $5. The balance can be spent anywhere VISA is accepted. In addition, an easy-to-use website allows the woman to check her test results and card balance online, and offers videos explaining what pap results mean, and encouraging the viewers to follow up.

To subsidize the effort, the students proposed a themed fund-raising campaign. In the campaign, corporations committed to women’s health and well-being—OPI, Avon, and others—would offer Es Tiempo jacaranda-themed products (nail polish, perfume, room fragrance) to their customers and profits from sales would support the incentive program. By engaging the women everywhere, the fundraising efforts would continue and expands the central motive of the campaign: women helping other women.

Finally, a series of ancillary products and services—t-shirts, tote bags, even warm socks for the exam room—would perpetuate and amplify the campaign’s theme.

Students created an exhibition of the Es Tiempo campaign, displaying how all facets of the campaign worked together–from the moment a woman first encountered  the campaign poster in her local library, her experience at the clinic, to when she received her results. The exhibition is planned to be displayed at LAC + USC Keck Medical Center for prospective donors and partners to the campaign. It will also be used as a research tool with future focus groups at USC Medical Center.

Es Tiempo won Best of Category in the Student Division of I.D.’s 2010 Annual Design Review. The project was among more than 400 entries. Also in 2010, the project was featured at the I.D. Annual Design Review Exhibition in New York City, and in 2011 was also featured at HOW Design Conference in Chicago.

Partnering institutions USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism continue to collaborate with Designmatters on fundraising for an anticipated pilot rollout of Es Tiempo in  Los Angeles in 2013.

Read more about Es Tiempo at Designmatters’ website, where you can also read about the follow-up course Para Nuestras Hijas. And be sure to check out this great write-up by DesignObserver.

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