CARIMAC students’ #Dntxtndrive Campaign 2012

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The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) Social Marketing class 2012 this year for their final year project focused their energy on a campaign against texting and driving. Despite the lack of local empirical evidence to support the choice of the campaign, it was duly justified based on emerging evidence and policy regionally and worldwide. Trinidad and Tobago, for example has implemented a law against the use of cellular telephones while on the roads from as early as February 2011. The law states:

“No person shall drive or have charge of a motor vehicle on any road while holding or using a hand-held mobile device.”


“No person shall use a wireless communication device to view, send or compose an electronic message while driving or having charge of a vehicle.”

Breach of this regulation renders a person liable to a fine of $1,500 or three months imprisonment.

The campaign by the social marketing group therefore rightly claims to be proactive in calling attention to this issue in Jamaica. They launched a campaign aimed at heightening awareness and behaviour change (less texting and driving) targeted at students of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The campaign recently ended but there were a number of innovative ideas employed by the students in order to communicated their message.

1. The Chalkwalk

The students drew large images of their campaign logo and slogan #dntxtndrive using chalk. This was not only interesting for passers by after completion, but stimulated interaction with onlookers about the campaign message while the drawing took place.

2. The Walkabout

The students used a steering wheel to dramatically walk around the campus, bumping into people as they passed as a conversation starter about texting and driving.

3. The Flash Mob

A group of dancers partners partnered with the social marketing team to do a flashmob which would highlight the message to onlookers.

And there were other great activities as well including a window wash/wipe event in the university car park and a campaign song. I was impressed by the creativity and work put in by the class to attempt a successful campaign.

But, was the campaign successful? The evaluation suggested that there was only a 13% adaption of the behaviour (the target was 20%). The students have argued, however, that the campaign was implemented in less than 6 months and changing behaviour is a long term activity. Also, 13% is still a positive indicator (the campaign certainly did not cause the behaviour to change in a negative way).

This is a viable argument, however one cannot help but wonder if the students should have even tackled behaviour change to begin with, given the limited time for the campaign. Awareness raising and advocacy could have been a sufficient goal for the time frame. Also, there is the question of whether the University was the best place to target the campaign. How many UWI students drive and was the campaign targeted enough specifically at drivers on the campus?

On Monday, May 14 2012, the day after the evaluation presentation of the campaign by the students the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies announced that persons who use mobile phones while driving will soon face fines, with the promulgation of new legislation by the end of 2012, which will make the practise illegal (view article). This cannot necessarily be directly attributed to the students’ campaign (unless Mr. Davies confirms :)) but it may have been influenced by the campaign. As such, a hearty congratulations to the students for raising awareness of this issue inside and outside of the walls of the University!

View the students’ presentation here.

CBMP launches ‘Man a Man: Live Up’ video competition

The theme for the competition is “Faddahood and manliness inna dis ya century”.

With the contest, Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS seeks to engage 18-24 year old Jamaicans to showcase their talent by creating an original two (2) minute video in any format from a music video, dramatic short, blog, podcast, editorial commentary, documentary and animation as long as it meets the competition rules for submission.

This competition is just one of the collaborative initiatives under the CBMP and PSI/Caribbean partnership umbrella of the CARISMA II project which aims to highlight the social issues impacting on HIV prevention across the Caribbean region. “Our constructs of masculinity and fatherhood in the region significantly influence the behaviours linked to some of the structural drivers of HIV and we saw this as an innovative way to hear from young people in Jamaica how they think about these issues in order to help us craft more relevant and meaningful programmes.”says Dr. Allyson Leacock, Executive Director of CBMP.

The ‘Man A Man: LIVE UP’ video competition videos will be showcased on YouTube with the top ten finalists’ submissions uploaded to Facebook at a later date. The competition has a first prize of USD $2,500 cash, a Digicel mobile phone, LIVE UP and Got IT? Get IT t-shirts plus many more items. The winning videos will also be shared with the CBMP 110 member stations in 24 Caribbean countries

Check out for more information.

Sir Viv and Johnnie Walker team up on "Be a Giant: Don't Drink & Drive" campaign

Mixing alcohol with driving is one of the many growing public health problems across the Caribbean. Recently, cricket legend Sir Vivian Richards teamed with Diageo’s Johnnie Walker brand on their “Be a Giant: Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign. As reported in the Jamaica Observer, the campaign encourages Jamaicans and others to be a giant by not getting on the road. The message is that in having a responsible, non-drinking driver take charge of the wheel, all are being giants. Sports and alcohol may be strange bedfellows, but for cricket fans who enjoy the ‘party stand’ and VIP areas with unlimited alcohol, Sir Viv is a formidable face to have on this campaign.

A major component of the campaign is the Facebook pledge to not drink and drive. By liking the campaign on the social networking site, participants will join Sir Viv in committing to drinking responsibly. Although there was no mention in the article of how many people the campaign expected to reach, so far, almost 50 people have ‘liked’ the campaign, and presumably signed the pledge.

Have you heard of this campaign? Did you sign the pledge? Are you encouraging others to sign the pledge? If so, what type of communication are you using to spread the word? Does having to go to facebook to take the pledge factor in any way in your decision to engage with the campaign?


The Jamaican Observer reported today that the country is receiving PEPFAR funds to fight HIV/AIDS stigma. Stigma is one of the major barriers to decreasing HIV transmission across the region, and also greatly affects the lives of those living with and affected by HIV.

The report said that the funding will go to five organization, with the funding used to reach

youth in rural and urban communities, marginalised population and faith-based organisations through specific initiatives.

A major part of the stigma reduction program will include developing communication campaigns to inform and educate different populations about AIDS. It’s amazing that thirty years into the epidemic, there is still a lot of confusion about AIDS, and often, this breeds stigmatization. Some funds will also be used to educate women leaving prisons, a population who are often stigmatized for their status and that puts them at risk.

Do you have other example of health communication interventions targeted at at-risk populations in your community?

Is having simultaneous multiple sex partners a mental illness?

Is having simultaneous multiple sex partners a mental illness? One Jamaican psychiatrist certainly thinks so. Dr. Frederick Hickling, speaking at a mental health campaign launch at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), called this behavior a “pathology.” He continues saying, “I think that in this culture we are enticed by transgression and we condone transgressive behaviour. We more condone transgression than we condone normality. When somebody comes to you and asks for a ‘bly’ they are really saying ‘allow me to do something that is wrong instead of doing something for myself’. I think that is absolutely wrong and I think it is abnormal and I think it is a form of psychological denial about things that we know we ought not to be doing”.

Dr. Frederick also took to task the often-cited links between polygamy in Africa and Jamaican (and by extension Caribbean) men’s multiple sexual partnerships, noting that the African links are used as an excuse for transgressive behavior.

As evidence for his mental illness theory, Dr. Frederick also cited the numerous musical examples glorifying such behavior. Among the ones mentioned was Beenie Man’s “Nuff Gyal” below.

Reflecting on the music and on men having simultaneous multiple sex partners, Dr. Frederick also said this “reflects the kind of attitude we have in the Caribbean towards transgression. That’s a very male, chauvinistic position where the man believes he can do what he wants, and when he wants. This is neither a pandemic, nor is it soft. It is an epidemic and it is hard”. To be sure, he also said this behavior is not a male only phenomenon, but it is male dominated.

So, is this a mental illness? I need much more evidence before coming a solid conclusion as such. And considering that these statements were made at the launching of a mental health awareness campaign, Dr. Frederick made every attempt to include cultural, sociological and psychosocial explanations for considering this a mental illness. Nevertheless, before we call it a metal illness or jump to how such behavior is (re)presented in music, we should look at how males are socialized across the Caribbean region. From young, men are often asked to prove their maleness by being with women. We make it very difficult for a young man to choose to abstain from sex or to choose to be with one person. Oftentimes, our parents or other adults nearest and dearest to us were engaged in this behavior and although we are not told to ‘do this’, we are also often not told the opposite.

Although I am not convinced this is a mental illness, it is a societal ill. It is reflected in the many single-parent or grand-parent headed households across the region. It is reflected in the rising HIV and other STI cases, particularly among Caribbean women. It is reflected in rising violent crime committed by young men. It is reflected by the number teen pregnancies.

This is actually an important conversation to have. We should be talking more about mental health across the region. We should also be talking more about the impact of simultaneous multiple sex partners not only from a mental health standpoint, but also from a public health and sociological standpoint. I’m just not sure if the two belong in the same conversation in then vein of Dr. Frederick.

The full article is available at the Jamaica Observer website here