Agencies Flexing for ‘Tween’ Initiative

As the deadline approaches for round one of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s $125 million Youth Media Campaign review, the requirements for winning are becoming clear.

Congress has put a spin on the project, an outreach promoting healthy habits in so-called “tweens”: youths between the ages of nine and 13.

Unlike ongoing anti-tobacco work or the battle against AIDS, the emphasis in the Youth Media Campaign will be to encourage healthy behavior among a population that, according to research, is increasingly inactive and overweight.

“We want ideas on how to reach this audience,” said Michael Greenwell, CDC associate director of communications, “and messages encouraging young people to be involved in positive activities, like exercise, that will displace opportunities for things that are unhealthy.”

As presently conceived, the two-pronged campaign will involve a general-market effort and a separate program targeting minority youth. The work will be administered by CDC?s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Responses to an Internet-based RFP ( that seeks letters of intent from advertising and public relations agencies are due May 4.

A first cut, based on written responses, will be made by the end of May. A second round — oral presentations, including spec creative work — is slated for June, with a final decision coming in July, Greenwell said. By law, the Atlanta-based CDC must award a contract by September or forfeit its funding.

A decision on how spending will break down among advertising, media and PR duties has yet to be made, Greenwell added.

Last fall, CDC hired Porter Novelli in Washington and Aeffect in Chicago to help with the outreach’s preliminary stages. Both shops have five-year contracts with the CDC.

“None of this affects anybody else?s ability to compete,” Greenwell noted.