The effort was devised with the backing of a WPP Racial Equity Program grant. Other initiatives carried out during Health4Equity’s first year addressed COVID-related health disparities, vaccination rates in the BIPOC community and early prostate cancer screening for Black men.
For “We Love You to Health,” the Wunderman team focused exclusively on diagnosing maternal health inequities, according to chief medical officer Dania Alarcon. It interviewed a range of Black mothers and mothers-to-be as well as doulas, nurses and midwives.
Some surprising findings emerged. “We found that doulas seem to be the ones that are focused on serving the needs of the mother and most in tune with the mother,” Alarcon said. Such learnings prompted the campaign team to center “We Love You to Health” around amplifying the voices, stories and experiences of Black mothers, and then attempting to connect them with doulas.
Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth compared to white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That significant disparity is what drove the team to expand the campaign beyond a mere awareness effort, said Wunderman Thompson Health chief creative officer Tuesday Poliak.
“We weren’t just going to do awareness,” she stressed. “We wanted to make sure we were coming up with a solution. We wanted to really help.”
The campaign also seeks to deconstruct what Poliak characterized as “the superwoman phenomenon” among Black women and the notion that they are often stereotyped as “the strong Black woman.”
“They are depicted as strong, self-sacrificing and free of emotion, and that they have this high tolerance to pain,” Poliak explained. “And this isn’t just a societal perception; even healthcare workers believe it. We want to rewrite that superwoman story so that Black women can finally get the respectful maternal care they deserve.”
“We Love You to Health” also includes a community care component.
“We wanted to make sure Black mothers can start to accept their care and almost return to the old way of community care – the idea that ‘it takes a village,’ because it takes a village to have a baby,” Poliak said.
Wunderman will judge the success of “We Love You to Health” against a range of metrics, including the number of individuals who click through to the doula site.
“This is phase one and our goals have always been very ambitious,” Alarcon said. “I’m so proud of our campaign and we can’t wait to see what it grows up to be.”