DON’T QUERY THE FAIRY
Dental decay is one of the most chronic childhood diseases in New Zealand, with over 29,000 Kiwi kids having rotten teeth pulled out last year. So, the Health Promotion Agency enlisted a straight-talking, nononsense tooth fairy to help Kiwi kids.
Before kids reach school age, a whopping one in seven children will have serious tooth decay. Alarmingly it’s also one of the top causes for childhood hospitalisation, despite the disease being preventable. Research shows only half of Kiwi kids brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. So, the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) made it its mission to tackle the issue and protect the teeth of young New Zealanders. The goals were to have children brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste; to ensure parents brushed their children's teeth while they’re young; and establish that baby teeth are important.
The HPA started out by surveying 1,000 Kiwi parents to find out what issues parents may have that were getting in the way of them giving the appropriate care to their children’s teeth. One issue was the misperception that baby teeth were less important considering they will fall out. However, problems with baby teeth can cause issues with adult teeth, such as a higher likelihood of crooked or crowded teeth. Parents also found toddlers teeth difficult to brush while juggling all the other tasks involved with caring for a young child and often overestimated their child’s ability to brush their own teeth. One main issue the HPA identified was the perception that fluoride was harmful, despite scientific evidence proving it is safe in the doses used in toothpaste. The HPA also identified that Māori and Pacific children were most affected when it came to issues resulting from poor dental care. With this in mind, the HPA developed a character that would resonate with parents, children and a Māori and Pacific audience. And, with the help of its partners and stakeholders, it re-imagined the tooth fairy. The result was a lovable, sassy, yet stern ‘aunty’ figure with a big heart who didn’t sugar-coat her words and acted as the guardian of baby teeth. The character was launched on social media, TVCS and pushed out through social influencers to a positive reaction from its intended audience.
According to a post-campaign evaluation, where 1,000 people were surveyed, the campaign was a roaring success. It found 35 percent of its primary target audience said they had made a change to their child’s tooth-brushing or dental care as a result of seeing the campaign. It found 23 percent advised they changed to brushing their child’s teeth twice daily, 19 percent said they brushed more, 15 percent of Pacific adults said they had bought a toothbrush and 11 percent of Pacific parents reported they’d changed toothpaste. The evaluation also showed the HPA had created 87-88 percent awareness in its primary target audience of Māori and Pacific parents. One in five people reported they learned from the campaign that the health of baby teeth is linked to the health of adult teeth and only nine percent agreed with the statement that baby teeth were not as important. The campaign metrics showed social media reached 1.55 million Facebook accounts with 850,000 Facebook video views and 20,000 engagement actions, and online delivered an additional 800,000 video views. Further, though not a main goal in the first stage of the campaign, it saw a 30 percent lift in calls to the ‘0800 talk teeth free’ community dental service. As the campaign was such a success, it's likely we'll see more of the HPA’S ‘nononsense’ tooth fairy in years to come.