The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is pleased to announce a new public awareness campaign: “Be Ready. Be Hydrated. / Prepárate. Hidrátate.” The campaign promotes healthy choices to counter sugary beverage marketing tactics aimed at youth of color and is funded by the Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT).
SBT was designed to result in improved health for Seattle residents by reducing the sales and consumption of sugary drinks. SBT also raises revenue for programs that increase access to healthy food and supports children’s health and learning. SBT’s Community Advisory Board endorsed strategies to raise awareness about the health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages among young Black, Latinx, and low-income communities, who are the disproportionate focus of sugar-sweetened beverage marketing.
Through a competitive funding process, HSD selected The Vida Agency, a Women and Minority Business Enterprise with deep roots in the community, to design and implement a community-led public awareness and counter-marketing campaign.
Developing the Campaign with Community
A coalition of Seattle-based community partners—including The Service Board, Hip Hop is Green, Black Stax, and Latino Community Fund—and an additional 40 youth connected to those organizations who are dedicated to their community and health, were convened to understand perceptions and attitudes around sugar-sweetened beverages and marketing tactics.
“Investing the money generated by the SBT tax back into the community that has funded it was the cornerstone to our approach,” explains Amalia Martino, Founder & President, The Vida Agency. “From the Coalitions to local media, and the incredibly bright young people who gave us their time in the midst of a pandemic and online schooling, this campaign has been a joy to conduct in the city I grew up in.”
These youth, along with a smaller group of youth known as the Creative Change Leaders, were instrumental in the development of the campaign’s messaging, branding, and plan. An additional survey reached more than 500 respondents, primarily representing Black, Latinx, and low-income youth and young adults.
“Working with these young people and community organizations was a blast! We got to learn the concerns of the communities whose voices are seldom heard. To watch the value that each person brought to the conversations were vital in leading the direction we chose to take with this campaign. We believe in order to be of service you must first understand what the people you are planning to serve need and what they respect as help in asking for these resources! What a great experience,” said Jace ECAj, a teaching artist from Black Stax.
“This has been a fantastic and innovative creative process to engage community and promote better health outcomes for young people,” said Jason Johnson, Seattle Human Services Director. “This effort can serve as a blueprint for how the City can support community-led ideas in the future. I want to thank the Vida Agency, Hip Hop is Green, Black Stax, The Service Board, Latino Community Fund, and everyone involved at the Human Services Department and in Seattle who made this effort a reality.”
The campaign launched in July and will be featured on local radio and news stations, blog posts, and social media. Through a partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Public Schools, and Seattle Public Utilities, the campaign’s message will reach additional youth, and will include murals and reusable water bottle giveaways.