The Romanian League of Rheumatology is a non-governmental, apolitical, social and humanitarian organization that fights against rheumatic diseases and supports people with disabilities. The League is developing the fight against rheumatic diseases aiming to promote the fullest integration of people with physical disabilities into their profession, family and society.
Although it is considered to be a disease of the elderly, rheumatic illness affects to a significant extent the active population, young people and even children. The frequency of these conditions among young people and the active population has an extremely important socioeconomic impact, musculoskeletal diseases affecting the ability of people to work, sometimes even definitively. They are responsible for half of the absences from the workplace and a three times higher unemployment rate than among the general population. Over 3% of the adult population is affected by inflammatory back pain, and men are especially affected. Inflammatory back pain usually starts before the age of 40 years. Because it can last more than 10 years before a correct diagnosis is made, the disease can get worse. The longer it takes until a correct diagnosis, the more the person is prone to irreversible injuries that may have a negative impact on his daily activities. Therefore, to reduce diagnostic time, going to the family physician and the rheumatologist at the first symptoms is extremely important.
The “Don’t Turn Your Back on It” is a creative and multichannel PR campaign initiative that brings up into discussion the inflammatory back pain and it sets alarm bells ringing among the young public for the first time in Romania.
The campaign cosisted of a mix of rational medical messsges with emotional approach tactics. This is why annual press conferences on Ankylosing Spondylitis awareness week, media partnerships with most relevant media outlets and a National Sociologic Study were completed with creative tactics like: Annual “Elephant Caravan”, “Free Elephant Rides” campaign in partnership with Taxify, “Video-Elephant burdeon” doodle in cinemas, “Virtual Kinetic Elephant Rides” which all had the participation of the Elephant Squad and of the symbol of the campaign.
- Annual “Elephant Caravan” on Ankylosing Spondylitis awareness week
In order to reach the audience, inform about back pain and generate active behavior (visit to the doctor) in those who needed it we organised an annual caravan on the Ankylosing Spondylitis awareness week. During these events, “Elephant Squads” stood in areas identified as hotspots for the target audience: metro stations in business districts of Bucharest at rush hours, shopping centers near tech stores and office buildings with the aim to inform people about the campaign and invite them to take the self-evaluation test. Each year, the street event was teased on social media through video teasers inviting peole to guess wher the “Elephant” will be the next day.
- “Free Elephant Rides” bloggers engagement activation in partnership with Taxify
Three A-list bloggers in Romania relevant for the male target audinece (Cristian China
, Cosmin Tudoran
and Toma Nicolau
) were involved in the campaign. In order to increase awareness for the disease, they became Taxify (car sharing app) drivers for a day and offered free rides to all the app users. Bloggers invited users to take the self-evaluation test, posted live statuses on their social media channels and wrote dedicated articles on their blogs. During the activation, a dedicated “Free elephant rides” category was available to all Taxify users.In order to generate active behavior (visit to the doctor) those who rode with the bloggers, took the self-evaluation test and got the recommendation to go to the doctor received extra free rides with Taxify to pay a visit to the rheumatologist.
- “Video-Elephant burdeon” doodle in cinemas across Romania:
Taking into concideration that today video content is king and that statistics show that by 2019, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic, we designed a short animation about back pain in which we presented the main symptoms and urge to go to a doctor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWEoQ6W2330
). We chose Cosmin Tudoran, the most involved blogger in the campaign in the previous years, to be the “voice” of our animation. He also shared the animation on his social media accounts in order to create more engagement. The animation broadcasted in all the cinemas from Romania in the Cinema City network. Furthermore, before entering the action movies movies (appreciated mostly by men in our target group), spectators were greeted by the “Elephant Squad” and were invited to take the online test on tablets. This way we were able to deliver the campaign messages in an interactive way, increased the level of awareness of back pain of inflammatory type and contributed to increasing the number of completed self-evaluation questionnaires.
- “Virtual Kinetic Elephant Rides”:
Based on the expertise of a kinetotherapist specialised in inflamatory back paine, we created an interactive version of the self evaluation test in the form of a special game that uses the kinect, a motion sensing input device produced by Microsoft for Xbox video game consoles and PCs. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral, it enables users to control and interact with their console/computer without the need for a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures. The user responds using his body parts in an interactive way to the questions that can help him realize if he has the disease or not. The moves chosen by us were the ones used in kinetotheraphy to treat inflamatory back pain. We took the “Virtual Kinetic Elephant Rides” to events dedicated to gammers community. We chose these type of communities because gaming is one of the most common hobbies for those affected by this disease: men between 15 and 45 years old. An example of such an event is Bloggers Lan Party organized by Tom Nicolau, previously involved in our campaign. It is a Romanian gaming event reserved for bloggers, vloggers, social media opinion makers. During the event, bloggers were able to complete the self evaluation test on-site by interacting with the Kinect application and posted on their social networks.
Furthermore, we took the Elephant Squad and the Kinect app. to shopping centers near tech stores. People that usualy go inside these storee are from the target of our campaign. They completed the test on the Kinect app, and received pamphlets with information about the affection.
In order to disseminate medical rational messages for the specialized media representatives, we organisez annual press conferences. In order to put tingh into context and integrate medical oppinion with real people’s perception, in 2018 we begun a national sociologic study aiming to find out what is the perception of the Romanian people on rheumatologic diseases and on their interation with medical doctos when needed.
Furthermore, in order to secure the dissemination of medical rational messages, we initiated serveral media partnerships with national influent media outlets. Among these we can mention: the presence of a rheumatologist at the morning show “Neatza cu Razvan si Dani” on national TV channel Antena 1, together with the symbol of the campaign, live talks about inflamatory back pain at radio morning shows (MagicFM, EuropaFM, Itsy Bitsy), informative short audio clips broadcasted on national radio (Europa FM, Magic FM), online banners and advertorials campaign with lifestyle, medical and general interest websites (Libertatea.ro, Doctorulzilei.ro, Unica.ro, Libertatea pentru femei, Adevarul, Click!, CSID.Stirileprotv, Sfatulmedicului.ro, CSID.ro, Debarbati.ro, Realitatea.net, Jurnalul.ro, Men’s Health).
Classic online communication channes and tactics included: a dedicated Facebook page with weekely content management, adwords & seo campaigns, up-to-date blog posts and newsletters.