Prevention campaign for the city of Hamburg’s public healthcare authority.
Or: How eye-to-eye target group participation became the foundation of success.

Almost one third of all teenagers in Hamburg have smoked weed.

At 17 percent, the number of teenagers consuming marijuana in 2012 was back up to 2004 levels. Figures from the Hamburg SCHULBUS Study, a recurring survey of school-age students and teachers regarding drug consumption, did not lie. The city of Hamburg used this occasion to carry out a prevention campaign that encouraged teenagers to reflect critically on their use of pot. The campaign focused on teenagers between 14 and 18, the age when kids are most at risk to begin taking drugs – especially marijuana. Parents and professionals also needed to be informed and made aware of the situation. The goal was and is to raise awareness of risks and legal regulations and to counteract tendencies to trivialize the topic, especially in light of the extremely controversial debate regarding the marijuana market regulation.

Job: Inform teenagers of the risks of using marijuana

Client: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, agency for health and consumer protection, department of drugs and addiction

Services: Peer group workshops, campaign idea, design and implementation

Indication/topic: Prevent addiction, dangers of marijuana consumption by teenagers

Approach

Who do teenagers believe regarding the consequences of using drugs? Their parents? Teachers? Or their friends? We believed that they were able discuss difficult topics more openly and with more acceptance among their peers. So, we let the peer group talk and included teenagers with marijuana and drug use experience in our concept development. We took their ideas seriously. The joint workshops and concept development with teenagers, government authorities, and our agency team lead to a campaign idea that focuses on teenagers themselves and allows them to actively participate and explore the topic. Plus, it can run for years.

Implementation

The cannabis prevention campaign BLEIB STARK! BLEIB DU SELBST! (Stay Strong! Stay Yourself!) was conceived as a multi-level, web-based prevention strategy. In addition to information for parents and professionals on the use of marijuana, the campaign website www.bleib-stark.com is also a creative participation platform. The concept is designed to run continually and regularly appeals to its target group for new ideas. For example, in 2014 self-produced videos and posters on the topic of marijuana use were submitted online; in 2015/16 the focus was on tweets. All submissions were published on the campaign website and the best were awarded a prize by Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, Hamburg’s senator for healthcare. In addition, it provides info material, a prevention challenge with different stations for schools, and peer operations in youth centers and in driving schools.

Result

The cannabis prevention campaign BLEIB STARK! BLEIB DU SELBST! from the city of Hamburg was awarded a special prize for innovative drug dependency prevention by the Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA, Germany’s Federal Center for Health Education) in its Vorbildliche Strategien kommunaler Suchtprävention (Model Strategies for Urban Addiction Dependency Prevention) competition. In the jury’s opinion, the effective incorporation of teenagers via social media channels Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter was exemplary. Since 2014, our campaign has been a fixed part of Hamburg’s drug prevention system and at the SuchtPräventionsZentrum (SPZ, Addiction Prevention Center), a part of the Landesinstitut für Lehrerbildung und Schulentwicklung (LI, Regional Teacher Training and Student Development Institute). The support of many health insurance companies testifies to its success and excellent networking. And the numbers speak for themselves: According to the 2016 SCHULBUS Study, the number of teenagers using marijuana fell from 17 percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2015.