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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

#NYCYouthHealth Emoji Campaign

Winner in Emojis

Audience Honor in Emojis


A cutting edge emoji social media campaign to raise awareness of NYC Health + Hospitals' YouthHealth services.

NYC Health + Hospitals delivers comprehensive, quality services to an estimated 152,000 New York City adolescents at hospitals and community health centers. However, there still are thousands of youth who don't seek health care services for fear of cost, stigma, or lack of confidentiality. Furthermore disparities exists among adolescents in New York City, with high rates of unintended pregnancy and STD infection persisting.

In 2015, at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities, about 15,000 adolescents were diagnosed with depression, more than 38,000 were tested for STDs, 30,000 were tested for pregnancy and some 2,400 gave birth.

To address these issues of concern, eliminate access barriers and provide adolescents with basic information on our services, NYC Health + Hospitals launched, a social media campaign to raise awareness of "YouthHealth" services.


Strategy and Execution


Sexual and reproductive health can be a very awkward and difficult topic of conversation for teens and young adults. For this social media campaign, our strategy was to utilize a communication tool that is very prominent with this young demographic: emojis. We specifically chose emojis associated with sexting in order to "break the ice" and immediately make our audience aware that sexual health is the topic of conversation.

The use of emojis made our visuals eye-catching; who wouldn't stop scrolling once a giant purple eggplant showed up in their Instagram timeline? It also inserted some humor and personality into an issue that is generally communicated through statistics or complicated health reports.


The campaign featured the launch of a new YouthHealth services website at and a YouthHealth Instagram account. An extensive social media campaign was also launched featuring provocative emojis on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter targeting young people from 13 to 21-years-old throughout New York City.

Facebook and Instagram were targeted with paid social media ads featuring provocative emoji icons that are widely used in the age group, informing young people about the availability of reproductive health and other services available at NYC Health + Hospitals YouthHealth centers. Google search ads were also used to direct young people searching for services to the website. The innovative campaign used #NYCYouthHealth, to help boost engagement among youth.

Key Features

The campaign featured 4 emoji images often used by teens for dating or sexting messages: the eggplant, the peach; the monkey covering his mouth; and a "birds & bees" image.

The campaign also featured social media images with professional photos of young people, including some real patients who have used our services.


The campaign kicked off on July 18 with an exclusive story in the New York Times and was followed with coverage of more than 25 stories published in newspapers, teen magazines, online publications, and health blogs.

After three months, the unique social media campaign led to over 5 million impressions and 153,288 clicks to our website where teens could learn more about sexual health and find YouthHealth centers located near them.

In addition, the campaign led to an increase in patient visits at the following YouthHealth center locations: Coney Island in Brooklyn; Elmhurst in Queens; Lincoln and Morrisania in the Bronx; and Metropolitan in East Harlem.

A follow-up campaign is currently being discussed.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

NYC Health + Hospitals; True VGD


Entry Credits