‘Our Darien’ campaign nets 100k views

‘Our Darien’ campaign nets 100k views

The ‘Our Darien’ campaign’s tailored images and slogans send important messages to Darien youth and their parents about the short- and long-term consequences of underage and binge drinking. It was developed by the Thriving Youth Task Force, a coalition funded by a CT Strategic Prevention Framework Coalition (CSC) grant from DMHAS. The town’s main struggle is with underage drinking, so the coalition targets the risk factors of peer and family norms under their CSC grant.


Hip, Edgy, Attention-Getting

Those words drove the development of their four-pronged campaign. Under the guidance of professionals from Colangelo Synergy Marketing, a big-time marketing firm headquartered in Darien, the coalition developed two versions of their campaign – one targeted at 7th through 12th grade students and one aimed at parents. In both, the Darien zip code, 06820, is overlaid on photos depicting the multitude of consequences alcohol can bring.

According to Thriving Youth Program Coordinator Emily Larkin, the images of the youth campaign are meant to depict the “moments you don’t see on Instagram.” To illustrate the short- and long-term consequences that can come from a night of drinking, the campaign includes images such as young person being arrested along with the caption “You got drunk and lost your phone…and your scholarship.” The adult-oriented messages seek to increase understanding of the teen brain, CT’s social host law, and the importance of adult role modeling. The photos and captions, including one of an adult man being arrested for DUI while his young children look on, are meant to encourage self-reflection and ongoing conversations.


By the numbers

The Our Darien campaign was delivered via four methods: social media, print media, public relations, and a campaign website. The first round ran for eight weeks on Facebook, Instagram, and in the local newspaper, netting 148, 170 total impressions and 5,284 engagements (likes, comments, shares and click-throughs to website) on Facebook alone. Print materials were delivered by coalition members to coffee ships, diners, the Post Office, and other frequented locations in town. The coalition also hosted two in-person events, a screening of the film Haze about a boy from a neighboring community who died from alcohol poisoning, and a Truth and Consequences panel for 350 parents.

For coalitions embarking on similar efforts, coordinator Emily Larkin shared these insights:

Keys to success:

·         Speak to what resonates most with your community. Conduct a thorough need assessment and use the unique cultural characteristics you discover in your campaign. For example, they learned that adults in the community were highly educated, so they could understand and appreciate high-level statements about neuroscience. They also chose to use specific colors, brands, and Darien-related items, like the popular ‘06820’ key chain.

·         Relentlessly seek feedback to refine messaging. According to Emily, “focus groups were the life blood” of this project, especially youth.


·         It was tough for some community members to see past the shock value they felt the messages contained. To combat this, coalition staff and members met one-on-one with stakeholders pre-launch to explain the campaign and ask for support. Many got on board, and the message the group worried was most controversial ended up getting the most attention on Facebook.

Advice to other communities looking to implement a similar campaign:

·         When launching a provocative campaign, present and explain rationale and data before launch.

·         It is important to meet with local stakeholders, even if they do not directly work with youth, because the campaign reaches all parts of the community.

·         Don’t let it just be online; include in-person events as a way to continue the conversation

·         Involve coalition members as focus group and as allies to help gain support for the campaign. For instance, Thriving Youth Coalition members wrote letters to the editor of the Darien Times every week of campaign.

·         Don’t be afraid to take risks and tell truth in way that is shocking.

·         To find a graphic designer to help you, search online to find someone in your backyard who also knows your community and want to do good there.

Emily invites coalitions with questions about the Our Darien campaign to visit the microsite, OurDarien.com, or to email her. emily.larkin@communityfunddarien.org