Butler County Harm Reduction Campaign

Increasing harm reduction services usage by nearly 45% in Butler County

In the wake of the pandemic, communities throughout Butler County have faced a dramatic rise in homelessness, substance use disorders, and HIV cases. HIV diagnoses have increased by 700%—a surge primarily linked to the opioid epidemic and widespread needle sharing among those who inject drugs. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Hamilton County Public Health, Caracole Inc., and the Harm Reduction Collaborative teamed up with KW2 to plan and execute a marketing campaign to reduce stigma and connect people at risk with harm reduction programs across the county. 


Not all audiences fit into the neat little boxes that define programmatic advertising. This is especially true for people who earn less or experience housing insecurity. Knowing they often deal with barriers to equity, such as limited income, internet access, and transportation, we adjusted our marketing approach to meet hard-to-reach audiences where they are. We also crafted messaging to enhance understanding of harm reduction services while nurturing a sense of hope and value among individuals in Butler County impacted by health disparities. Additionally, through research, we discovered the necessity of reaching support networks and loved ones to help our audiences access the services they need. 


To deliver our message of hope and support to Butler County’s primary and secondary audiences, KW2 launched a strategic mix of digital and traditional tactics. First, we placed billboards and spread flyers within highly impacted communities around syringe service programs (SSP), surrounding businesses, and public transportation lines. Next, we deployed both online display and paid social ads that encouraged loved ones, friends and family to find and share safer use resources. 


The campaign achieved immediate success by employing smart tactics and a creative approach to ad spending. Over the course of five months, SSP locations witnessed a substantial 38.5% surge in services used, resulting in nearly 70,000 returned syringes and the distribution of over 900 NARCAN kits. Media impressions increased, too, marked by a 47% uptick over the previous year. An impressive 97% of these impressions were concentrated in areas with above-average HIV rates. Clicks also increased by over 45%, driving higher engagement on the landing page. What next? Even more targeted marketing tactics, with a singular goal: further reducing new HIV cases in Butler County. 

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