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Maris, West & Baker (MWB) has been awarded the overall Best Wellness Campaign for 2015 by the Ragan Health Care Awards. The campaign, developed by MWB on behalf of the Mississippi State Department of Health, takes a direct and hard-hitting approach to encouraging young people to get tested for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

1in5 HIV 160x600Ragan’s Communications Awards are among the most prestigious in the fields of marketing and public relations throughout the world. Ragan properties support over 800,000 daily readers and is considered a gold standard in communications information.

MWB’s HIV/STD awareness campaign – titled “Know It,” encourages young, sexually active adults to utilize interactive and mobile technology to remain aware of their personal sexual health. The multi-platform campaign utilizes traditional television, print, outdoor, and interactive media to promote testing access and a discrete mobile application users can utilize on their mobile devices. In addition to the marketing campaign, MWB was also responsible for the development of the mobile app.

“This candid call for action from the State of Mississippi Department of Health to potential and untested HIV carriers who are young, sexually active adults is the only one of its kind in the U. S. so far.” – Ragan’s

“This campaign was first and foremost about communicating clearly and directly exactly who is at risk for HIV and other STD’s,” said MWB Creative Director Marc Leffler. “There are stereotypes of who these at-risk people are and the fact is so many more people are actually at risk.”

The campaign was developed around social situations many young people frequently find themselves in. The campaign then connects these situations with at-risk behavior and subsequently encourages the audience to have peace of mind by being tested.

“With today’s media targeting technology, we knew we could afford to be a bit more hard-hitting with our messaging, because we weren’t as worried about it being seen by ‘the wrong audience,’ ” said MWB President Peter Marks. “This is a great example of effective messaging being married with highly sophisticated media placement and message dissemination.”

Ragan recognized the “Know It” campaign as “one of its kind in the U.S. so far.”


Dispelling myths about HIV transmission was a
goal of the “Know It” campaign. The Mississippi
State Department of Health used sharable media,
such as this infographic developed by MWB,
as another channel of message dissemination.

MWB’s campaign increased engagement with testing services by 17,000% from pre-campaign levels, testing center tracking information showed. The campaign ran statewide in Mississippi and targeted 17 – 35 year-olds. The main goals of the campaign were to boost awareness of the importance of getting tested, publicize access to free and confidential testing, to dispel myths that HIV is “untreatable” and “fatal,” and to encourage those who have HIV to get and stay in treatment regimes.

“It is unfortunate that Mississippi is among the leaders in the U.S. with per capita rates of HIV and STD occurrences,” said Marks. “We do hope that campaigns such as ‘Know It’ and the clinical and field work being done by the Mississippi State Department of Health and other partners will make a real and positive impact.”

See samples from MWB’s “Know It” campaign here.


Maris, West & Baker is a Jackson, Mississippi-based marketing and experiential brand development agency with a core competency in public health communications. The agency oversees campaign development and implementation for tobacco prevention and cessation, vaccination awareness, communicable diseases awareness, and healthy lifestyle promotion.

The Ragan Health Care Awards are part of Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc., which has been the leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters. Ever since the launch of The Ragan Report in 1970, Ragan has provided the professional communicator and executives with timely, practical, and relevant information that few others can match. The Ragan brand now includes over 16 targeted newsletters in the areas of employee communication, organizational writing and editing, sales and marketing, media relations and motivational management. The Ragan Health Care awards fall under the company’s Health Care Communication News, which is a daily website that highlights the latest news in health care social media, marketing, health communications, Pharma, physicians and mobile health.

For more information, contact Tim Mask at Maris, West & Baker.