Known for its spectacular coastline, Monterey County has another claim to fame: the highest diabetes rate in California. With nearly half of residents having type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, Community Health Innovations (CHI), the population health organization in the county, decided to act.
The family member Monterey County never knew it had
Taking an audience-first approach, we conducted extensive research to get to know the residents of Monterey County. Through in-market ethnographic research, we spent extended time with families in their homes, learning about their lifestyles and healthy living habits. We combined this with focus groups to help us truly understand Diabetes is a complicated disease influenced by family, culture, and place.
Bringing down the rate of diabetes in Monterey meant understanding the people who live there. CHI partnered with Revive to trace the connections between people’s lives and their health. We traveled across the county to conduct ethnographic studies, speaking with people in their homes, at work, and the local food bank. Those conversations let us see beyond the obvious to understand what drives decisions that affect their health.
Then we layered consumer and social determinants of health data over our ethnographic observations to create messaging that would resonate across the region – from the affluent coast to the inland agricultural region.
A surprising insight becomes a powerful message
Our research revealed a clear issue: Misinformation, not a lack of awareness, was preventing people from protecting their health. For example, most consumers felt diabetes was only a danger later in life, when in fact it can strike at any age. The message we developed for Monterey County went straight to the problem: Think you know diabetes? Think again.
If we could dispel the myths around type 2 diabetes, we could guide people to take the first step to better health. And with accurate information and clear next steps, fighting diabetes would become a community-wide movement.
But first, the people of Monterey needed a jolt to recognize the dangers of type 2 diabetes. Enter “The Beast.”
It’s The Beast we call diabetes, and it devours everything in its path, lives and limbs. There’s only one way to stop it. Starve it of the things it loves: Soda and cookies. Skipping the gym. Couch time. Extra servings. It’s a ravenous, attention-grabbing blue monster that grows with each unhealthy decision – and shrinks with each healthy choice.
The Beast appeared across out-of-home, digital, and social channels, driving traffic to two engaging interactives: a myth-busting true-or-false quiz and a health risk assessment. The goal: disrupt complacency and jumpstart action.
But achieving better health needs more than a jolt. Visitors to the site are also encouraged and educated with friendly articles and resources to bolster their fight against The Diabetes Beast and connect the community to its caregivers at local hospitals.
The beast begins to shrink
Results for the campaign significantly exceeded the client’s goals for early impact as people took their first steps to ban The Beast from Monterey County. In just the first three months after launch, 539 community residents took the health risk assessment – and their first step toward better health. 113 people registered for the Diabetes Prevention Program at Salinas Valley Hospital/Community Health Innovations, putting themselves in the care of diabetes specialist. Visitors to the website spent an average of 2:37 minutes on the site. And 498 visitors signed up for the e-newsletter to continue getting tips and information on beating The Beast.