Godwin's PSAs Attack Miss. Teen Births
ATLANTA--Safe sex may be the buzz phrase of the '90s, but the Mississippi Department of Human Services is promoting no sex to teens around the state with a public service television campaign from GodwinGroup of Jackson, Miss.
Although a recent federal report showed teen birth rates have fallen in every state, Mississippi still has the highest incidence in the U.S., according to the latest figures available.
"Talk about a tough product," said GodwinGroup chief creative officer Todd Ballard, whose charge was to "make it cool to abstain" from sex.
GodwinGroup conducted focus groups with teenagers around the state, and "out of the mouths of babes came the campaign," Ballard said. "What we found out was it is not a race issue, it is not an income or a poverty issue."
The agency took a documentary approach to the pro bono project, dubbed "Heat of the Moment." A 16-minute film features real teens talking about their various sexual experiences--or lack thereof, in some cases. Three 30-second commercials, two with 60-second versions, were culled from the film.
In one spot, a young man expresses regret that unprotected sex, paired with a sexually transmitted disease, resulted in his child having birth defects. Another features an adolescent girl bitterly telling how her boyfriend bolted "like a scared dog" after learning she was pregnant: "I was thinking 'no' throughout most of the whole time, but I never said 'no.' " The last execution depicts a teen explaining his personal policy of abstinence, which he sees as the only way to "avoid all the negative consequences of sex."
The spots start airing in Mississippi this summer as PSAs, although Ballard said corporate advertisers are being approached to run them as part of their paid rotations. The state also hopes to screen the commercials at movie theaters. The 16-minute film will be distributed to schools, churches, youth centers and civic groups. A package of TV spots, ads and posters will be made available to other states as well.
Besides Ballard, credits go to group creative director Alan Goodson, copywriter Laurie Asmus, art director Stacye Rinehart, agency producer Gail Spruill, director Ron Ames, producer Philip Froemke and editor Michael Tew.