In 2016, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced increased funding and lower drug costs to treat all Veterans enrolled in VA care for hepatitis C, regardless of their stage of liver disease, with a new generation of highly effective antiviral medications. Treatment of this virus can prevent the progression of advanced liver disease (e.g., cirrhosis) and prevent end-stage liver disease and death.
- Campaign Strategy and Management
- Graphic Design
- Marketing and Advertising
- Paid Media
- Reporting and Analytics
- Web Design
VA needed a robust public health education effort to reach and serve the majority of Veterans eligible for testing and treatment, which was estimated to number near 200,000 individuals. This effort involved targeted public health communications in cities with high numbers of Veterans most at risk of having hepatitis C and national communications to raise awareness among key Veteran groups such as baby boomers.
VA required an 18-city paid media out-of-home (exterior) and national magazine advertising program to reach Veterans at risk of hepatitis C, educate them about their options and encourage them to visit VA for testing and new, advanced treatments.
Aptive developed a Veteran-focused ad campaign that rolled out to 12 cities and nationally during phase I and expanded to six additional cities in phase II, which concluded in early 2018. Aptive’s photographers traveled to four diverse locations to photograph actual Veterans who were tested and/or treated for hepatitis C at VA. The resulting array of diverse photographs — depicting Veterans walking their dogs in the woods, relaxing in the park, gazing at the ocean and consulting VA physicians — formed a photo library for VA’s advertising campaigns and creative products. The images were then formatted into print, bus tail, bus card, bus king and billboard ads. The campaign’s peer-to-peer message — I’m free of hepatitis C, you can be, too — communicated the benefits to Veterans of getting cured at VA. Each of the 18 city ads displayed customized phone numbers that directed Veterans’ calls to the nearest local VA medical center.
Results and Benefits
- Millions of impressions ‒ Cities reporting out-of-home data showed budgeted placements of 1,323 units yielding roughly 30.1 million impressions.
- Free ad space ‒ Aptive secured for VA 417 additional units of free ad space yielding about 16.9 million additional impressions (or a rough total of 47 million impressions).
- Millions of Veterans reached ‒ In addition, about 3.6 million Veterans and their families were reached through ads placed in the six Veteran-focused magazines. Web traffic to www.hepatitis.va.gov also grew during advertising periods.
- More Veterans helped ‒ VA reported that screening rates increased across all 18 cities during adverting periods — by 80 to 93 percent in some cases — and that treatment starts increased in several cities.
- More than 100,000 Veterans treated – In April 2018, VA reported that it had treated the 100,000th Veteran for hepatitis C. VA has treated a total of 107,000 Veterans, with cure rates from oral antivirals reaching 95 percent.