600,000 young girls every year give birth in the DRC, and 83% of those pregnancies are unplanned and unexpected. These numbers reflect a reality for local women that often does not include access to, or knowledge about, contraception.
In 2016, we partnered with DKT International, a marketing firm that focuses on reproductive health, on a new social initiative in Kinshasa—the DRC’s largest city with over 11 million people. Our goal was to provide young people with new information that highlighted the existence—and efficacy—of contraception. Together, we created Batela Lobi Na Yo, meaning “Protect Your Future” in Lingala, the local language; the campaign was designed to inspire and inform young people on how to own their sexual health.
Unlike some contexts we've worked in where there is more skepticism or resistance to young people accessing contraception, our team discovered that both girls and their support system–including religious leaders and parents–were open to more straightforward information about contraception options.
In response to this interest, our team sought to give Kinshasa residents as much pertinent information as they could digest, as quickly and effectively as possible, in a trio of formats that felt fun, fresh, and exciting: live, high-profile events like Live From Kinshasa--(a competition similar to American Idol), followed by small church gatherings called Trusted Voice, and one-on-one, Peer-to-Peer conversations with ambassadors, young women representing DKT who are responsible for outreach.
We learned that girls love expressing themselves and sharing their creativity with their peers; through that insight, the four “Power Poses” were born. Each represents a contraceptive method—condoms, injection, IUDs, and implants—with a particular stance that subtly references how and where these methods are used. Our imagery was designed to represent “a girl like me,” so we photographed local girls, not models, in these stances as a means to further a personal connection to their accessibility and potential. Our next campaign will include a young man to emphasize on the fact that Batela Lobi Na Yo is aimed at couples as well.
To accompany the Power Poses, we developed a series of patterns to use in the branding campaign—four simple “squiggles” that offer a visual representation of each type of contraception: a curvy line for condoms, a dot for injection, a T-shape for IUD, and an “equal” sign for implants. These playful icons provide a kind of brand building block that could be used on the background of print materials, on t-shirts, or on promotional materials and local displays.
Batela Lobi Na Yo has yielded exciting results. The campaign had national coverage, and of those reached, 20,000 teens had one-on-one conversations (many for the first time) about contraception. In terms of conversion, of the 5,000 teens that visited a clinic after engaging with the campaign, 75% adopted a contraceptive method which will lead to a reduction in unplanned pregnancies in Kinshasa.
Now that Batela Lobi Na Yo has been successfully piloted, DKT International has expanded from Kinshasa to three additional regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo to increase education about, and use of, contraception.