Civilian Awarded for Marketing Efforts to Reduce Teen Alcohol Use

Dec 12, 2019  |  By Kim Coutts  |  

The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) presented Civilian Agency with a Silver Donald J. Berreth Award for Health Marketing for its work on behalf of the not-for-profit Mission Hospital. Civilian’s parallel campaigns aimed at reducing teen alcohol use in several Orange County, California high schools—Strength in Numbers and Raising Healthy Teens—were recognized for excellence in shifting perceptions and inspiring healthy behavior change.   

Campaign impact and behavior change was measured by analyzing data from the annual California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) from before and after the campaigns. The evaluation found that the schools included in the campaigns showed higher reductions in alcohol use—reductions of up to 43 percent—compared to other schools in Orange County and across the state.

“We’re thrilled our work was so effective at not only reaching teens but inspiring them to take action,” said Stacey Nelson Smith, Civilian’s Founder and CEO. “This campaign proves that strategic social marketing campaigns based on research and best practices can effectively address one of the most pressing health issues facing us today. We’re proud to be part of the community-wide efforts focused on healthier teens.”

Before creating the campaigns, Civilian conducted an extensive analysis of peer-reviewed research to identify the most effective strategies for reducing youth alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. The research concluded that a social-normative approach—correcting the misperception that youth drinking is the “norm”— has proven to be an effective way to change teen drinking behavior. The team developed creative concepts consistent with this strategy, tested them through interviews and focus groups with students, and used the results to develop the campaigns.

The campaigns launched in early 2018 and included websites, community education, geo-targeted online advertising, social media outreach, and on-campus advertising. Collaboration and support from community stakeholders also contributed to the success of the campaign.

“Congratulations to Civilian for winning a Berreth Award for excellence in Public Health Communication. Civilian has been recognized by its peers as among the year’s best in public health communication,” said NPHIC President Janice Okubo.

Learn more about both Mission Hospital campaigns at and A complete list of this year’s winners is available here.

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