Building a Birth Control Support Network for Women
A multimedia public service campaign as a vehicle to encourage smart choices
Address the pressing social challenge of unplanned pregnancies in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic.
Among women age 18 to 29 who participated in a yearlong randomized controlled trial, women in the Bedsider group were 2.54 times less likely to have unprotected sex.
Bedsider, a multi-touchpoint birth control support system with a sex-positive brand.
Unplanned pregnancies are a big problem in the US, especially among unmarried 18- to 29-year-olds. Seven in 10 pregnancies in this demographic are unplanned, a statistic that applies to women of all ethnicities and socioeconomic levels. Complicating matters are the social tension between abstinence-only and contraception-inclusive education, and the difficulty and expense associated with obtaining prescription birth control.
Since 2009, IDEO has worked closely with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit NGO, to address this pressing social challenge. One of the first insights on the project was identifying the need for comprehensive birth control support. Designers looked at ways to transform birth control from a prescription (a piece of paper that is handed to you by a doctor) into a subscription (a program that ensures you start using birth control, use it correctly, and migrate to more effective methods).
Given the complex and potentially overwhelming subject matter, the IDEO team interviewed women in the target demographic; talked with doctors, counselors, and other experts with varying opinions about birth control; and hosted roundtable discussions. They developed several concepts and scenarios that allowed members of the National Campaign to see sex and pregnancy through the eyes of the young women they’re working to reach.
Research and prototyping efforts led to the design of Bedsider, a multi-touchpoint birth control support system with a carefully crafted sex-positive brand, which is uncommon for the healthcare industry. Bedsider focuses on five key areas (awareness, motivational drivers, digital offerings, services, and loyalty) and acts as a vehicle for behavioral change that’s flexible, with room to grow into a much larger movement.
Initial advertising mock-ups for Bedsider.
The Ad Council and the National Campaign debuted a multiyear, multimedia public service campaign in November 2011. The Bedsider website offers comprehensive education about existing birth control methods. This includes opt-in reminder services, personal stories from women across the country on why they chose a particular method, a phone service that provides information in both English and Spanish, features such as “Fact or Fiction” (hilarious animated clips debunking popular myths), a “Frisky Friday” newsletter, and more.
Bedsider has launched nationally with the help of an Ad Council campaign that drives sexually active women ages 18–24 to Bedsider.org. The multimedia Public Service Announcement effort includes television, radio, print, web, and nontraditional advertising, as well as an integrated social media program.
“We hope that Bedsider will be a useful tool for women to learn about their birth control options, better manage their birth control, and in the process avoid getting pregnant until they’re ready,” said Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast in its monthly newsletter. Planned Parenthood and Philliber Research Associates joined forces with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy to help test and evaluate Bedsider.
Through a social media campaign called #ThxBirthControl, people are voicing their thoughts about what birth control has made possible for women, men, families, and society. It’s all part of Thanks, Birth Control Day, launched in November 2013 as part of a continuing initiative to encourage positive conversations and more consistent use of birth control by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. To celebrate the movement, IDEO wrote, scored, and performed an animated musical featuring condoms and pill packs dancing the cancan.
Thanks, Birth Control: The Song
According to an independent evaluation of the program, Bedsider is the first digital intervention in reproductive health in the U.S.—with adults as an audience—that has shown to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Turns out that when women and men have the ability to plan, prevent, or space pregnancies, they’re more likely to finish school, achieve their goals, and ultimately have healthier families, according to the nonprofit organization.