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Creating A Movement – SKY Girls BW

Stripping the aspiration out of smoking in Botswana

SKY is a behaviour change campaign that uses social marketing techniques to build empowerment and resilience among teenage girls and strip the aspiration out of smoking.

Smoking rates have been rising rapidly among teenage girls in many African markets in recent years from a very low base, as traditionally, women do not smoke. SKY, which was developed by Good Business and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in Botswana in February 2014.

Research conducted by the University of Botswana shows early signs of a positive impact on the goal of smoking prevention and also the broader goal of girls’ empowerment.

Strategy

SKY starts with what teenagers care about, rather than the issue we want to tackle.

Qualitative research we conducted in Botswana made clear that social inclusion and belonging is everything to our teen audience, and this is tied up in a complex process of girls finding their identity. Girls want to figure out who they are; they also want to fit in.

When it comes to smoking, most don’t want to try it but they think lots of other teens do, and they struggle to say ‘no’.

SKY was borne from these insights. By integrating the tobacco message into a broader empowerment platform based on the idea of ‘being true’, we focus on what matters most to girls.

SKY is a movement (or, as girls call it, a ‘sistahood’) they belong to – something ‘cool’ that’s bigger than them. It is community led – SKY doesn’t ever tell girls what to do, the content, including the message to stay clear of smoking, comes from girls.

In action

SKY is inspiring a mass audience of girls in Botswana to ‘be true to themselves’.

SKY is built around passion points such as music, fashion and dance and uses connections with celebrities, cool places and brands – so it is aspirational, the girls walk towards it. SKY then unites girls behind the idea of ‘being true to themselves’ and creates an environment which enables them to express their real feelings, including the desire not to smoke, and feel supported in doing so.

SKY reaches the girls through multiple channels that deliver a rich, immersive, interactive experience and bring in girls from all different backgrounds and locations. They include the free SKY magazine, national radio, girl-led events, street theatre, social media, SMS and a peer network of engaged girls on the ground.

One year since launch, 95% of the target audience have heard of SKY and it reaches well over 50% on a weekly basis.

Engagement

Content collected from tens of thousands of girls shows that SKY is an important part of their lives.

Girls are constantly generating content for SKY – they send SMS messages, they contribute to the SKY magazine, they phone in to the radio shows, they post on Facebook and they talk to SKY’s network of girls on the ground.

This has enabled us to take the pulse of SKY as we go, and from the start the reaction has been overwhelming.

Impact

SKY is building girls’ confidence and self-esteem – and shifting attitudes around smoking.

The University of Botswana conducted research before the project began in January 2014, which established a baseline of attitudes and behaviour.

In January 2015 – one year after SKY launched – the University conducted another survey to assess change. The results show a positive downward shift in key attitude statements on smoking.

This shift is reflected in data gathered directly from girls when they take the SKY pledge. They list three things they commit to – and the proportion spontaneously listing ‘not smoking’ has now reached 88%.

We believe this has been made possible because of the impact SKY has had on broader empowerment goals – greater confidence mean girls feel able to reject smoking.

The Year 1 data shows 67% of girls say SKY has helped them “feel confident I wouldn’t do something just because others tell me to” and 75% say it has helped them “have control over my own life”.

This is only year one, and SKY is still very much in development, but we are excited by its potential, and hope to build on the power of positive change in Year 2 and beyond.

Client: Good Business

Published:22 Jan 2014

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