Upstream USA is on a mission: to prevent unplanned pregnancies by making effective contraception accessible and affordable for women. As a nonprofit, they partner with states, healthcare providers and clinics to provide training, resources, and the support needed to stock all forms of contraception.
Upstream's mission is incredibly important and is far bigger than just handing out condoms (although they train providers to do that, too!). There are over 6 million pregnancies in the US every year, but nearly half of those are unplanned – and the rate of unplanned pregnancy among low-income women is five times that of higher-income women, which can perpetuate the cycle of poverty and economic inequality for women and their children.
Shockingly, Delaware has the highest rate of unplanned pregnancy per capita. So, Upstream is starting right there, partnering with agencies and providers statewide to make contraceptive access completely free and incredibly easy. No other state has done a contraception access campaign this ambitious for all women, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status.
Upstream's long-term goal is to work with states across the country to expand access to the full range of contraceptive care to millions of women, empowering them to decide when and if they want to become pregnant, and improving economic and health outcomes for parents, children, and society.
Our job? Letting women in Delaware know that deciding if and when to become pregnant is totally up to them and making it easy to take action.
It seems like a straightforward sell – "Hey, this way to free birth control!" We conducted a ton of primary research, including in-market focus groups, in-home consumer encounters, expert interviews with care providers and advocates, and a Frank About Women Engagement Survey of over 200 young women in Delaware. We learned about how she thinks about her health, her contraception experience, and even who she trusts and how she consumes media throughout her day.
Strategically, we had a huge challenge, because unplanned pregnancies happen for countless, complex reasons. Misinformation – "It will make you fat!" "It doesn't work anyway!" – can scare young women away from certain types of contraception. For others, it has simply been infeasible, due to costs, the logistics of getting and keeping an appointment, and even consistent usage of traditional methods like the pill. And sometimes there's a sense that pregnancy is inevitable. We want to celebrate the ability to stay baby-free right now without being anti-baby. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, nobody talks about contraception.
Overcoming these barriers would be no small feat. How could we break through the clutter and get young women excited about a topic absolutely nobody was talking about in public? How could we provide encouragement without them feeling pressured? And how could we educate them without boring them? By talking to them the way they talk to each other. Writing a song they couldn't stop singing. And making them laugh...all the way to a healthcare provider for free contraception. So we created a fierce music video with undertones of power, sisterhood and feminine humor that cut through the coy innuendo of most female-targeted advertising.
Our message to Delaware women: Be Your Own Baby!
Getting that important content to her required an equally smart media strategy, connecting with where she felt most comfortable in her own skin. We knew from our research she loved to be entertained with edgy, female-forward content in the social space, that she trusted her peers when it comes to healthcare recommendations, and she wasn't afraid to use "Dr. Google" when she wanted to learn more. So we promoted the video through engaging Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and digital banners designed to get her attention and inspire some social sharing. We also got on her radar in some fun and unexpected ways, with posters, in-clinic messaging, and super rad swag at local events like handing out "Cervix-a-Lot" pins at the Delaware Ladybug festival.It's not all fun and games, of course. We're talking about taking meaningful action for herself. So, from a content-rich but totally playful website to a BFF-worthy bot and of course some highly targeted paid search, we created a digital experience that took the hassle and guesswork out of exploring options, finding a clinic, getting an appointment, getting to that appointment, and choosing the method that's best for her – all for free.
In tiny Delaware, we're making a big splash. In just 10 weeks, on a shoestring nonprofit budget, our campaign is exceeding expectations. Our video has reached 7MM views, thanks to an organic share rate that's exceeding our benchmark by 30%.
More importantly, we've gotten meaningful engagement. People didn't just see and share our campaign, they sought more information. We doubled our benchmarks on display media and paid search click-through rates, and outperformed our bounce rate benchmarks by 12%. Branded search volume doubled month over month, driving our click-through rate a whopping 25x above and beyond our benchmark. Critically, Delaware women took the most important step of all – they reached out to clinics after visiting our site. In fact, we blew our mobile intent rate benchmark of 1% out of the water with 12% of visitors contacting clinics – that's a 1200% improvement!
It all adds up to 55MM campaign impressions so far and we're only getting started. We've even heard directly from women who were inspired by our campaign to take action and several health centers have told us: "Our visit numbers are higher than they are usually this time of year and they have been since the campaign started!"
It's only a matter of time before we see this success translate to the most important number of all – a reduction in unplanned pregnancies.