Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that of approximately 12,000 cases of cervical cancer and HPV diagnosis each year, Black and Hispanic women are more likely to be affected than women of other races or ethnicities.
That is likely caused by less access to screening and follow-ups.
With that in mind, Project Health Equality and the Black Women’s Health Imperative joined forces in June to launch the cervical health awareness campaign, Cerving Confidence. It tapped Grammy Award-winning artist Ciara to encourage women to prioritize Pap tests and cervical cancer screenings.
The campaign, which features a PSA video with Ciara inviting viewers to “cerv confidence” and tell other women in their lives to do the same, ran on TV, social media including Instagram and Facebook and on a dedicated microsite.
Supported by Edelman, the campaign also contained multimedia such as a photo booth and Giphy integration.
Its goal was to encourage women to get tested using “language that Black women themselves use,” said Linda Blount, president and CEO of BWHI. “By using a spokesperson who can relate [to Black women], we can then help them understand that cervical health is part of taking care of your whole self.”
Blount noted that part of the message is that cervical cancer is preventable.
Since the campaign’s launch, it was picked up by 45 media outlets, 43% of which specifically target Black women, and the PSA video received more than 2.7 million views on Instagram, generating more than 19 million social impressions.
Celebrity ambassador Ciara sat for 20 back-to-back interviews, beginning with a broadcast exclusive with CBS This Morning that aired in June followed by media outreach resulting in 74 stories reaching a potential audience of 1.6 billion. Most of the reporters who interviewed Ciara on the day the campaign launched were women of color, despite the fact only 7.5% of all journalists are Black.
BWHI also did earned media for Cerving Conversations, a series of roundtable talks between Ciara and other women of color. A September interview with Today resulted in 14 earned media placements reaching a potential audience of 419 million people.
To measure the direct impact of the campaign launch on Black women, Edelman conducted an organic lift survey in August and September with 75 Black women aged 18 to 45. The exposed group was recruited from individuals who were confirmed to have engaged with Ciara’s account and were re-exposed to Ciara’s launch-day Instagram video post. The control group had not seen Ciara’s content, nor were they connected to her, but had a similar demographic profile.
The study found a 10-point lift in those who were “very likely” to ask a friend or family member to schedule their next well-woman exam and Pap test. Cervical cancer prevention also resonated with the exposed group, which was 13 points more likely to identify cervical cancer as preventable through regular screening.
Blount also said she has received messages from Black women who want to learn more about what questions to ask their physician during a screening, or what symptoms to look for.
The campaign is ongoing, with more elements to come in 2022.
During the pandemic, cervical cancer screenings declined by 84% with more than 16 million delaying their tests. Seventy-two percent of women see cost as a barrier to screening but do not know it is covered by the Affordable Care Act.