Memorable TV spot promotes healthy birth spacing

A couple visiting a health provider to learn more about family planning
A mass media advertising campaign for an oral and injectable contraceptive brand in Afghanistan included a television advertisement that showed a husband and a wife visiting a health provider to learn more about family planning.

SHOPS Plus partner, the Afghan Social Marketing Organization (ASMO), launched a multimedia campaign that promoted spacing births for better health of mothers and children. ASMO markets a basket of contraceptive options including condoms, oral pills and injectables to reduce maternal and child mortality in Afghanistan.

ASMO implemented the multimedia campaign for its oral and injectable contraceptive brand, Khoshi, between March and June 2017. Central to the campaign are television and radio advertisements developed by the social marketing organization. These advertisements feature a married couple seeking to understand contraceptive options suitable for them and being counseled by a doctor. SHOPS Plus supported ASMO in developing and implementing a media release plan, reinforcing the campaign themes through community engagement activities and advertisements in pharmacies, and evaluating the campaign to inform future demand creation strategies.

SHOPS Plus conducted a survey of more than 2,000 married men and women in Afghanistan and found that 90 percent recalled the campaign, which aired in the spring of 2017. Nearly 75 percent saw the ad on television and 33 percent were exposed to the ad daily.

The survey found that husbands are a key determinant for whether or not Afghan women use family planning, and lack of support from female family members is a barrier to using it. Women who don’t use oral and injectable contraceptives are less familiar with the risks of closely spaced births and are more confident in the body’s ability to space births naturally than women who use family planning. Additionally, negative shopkeeper attitudes may discourage women from buying contraceptives.

Ads provide birth spacing information

The campaign targeted married men and women several times a day over major television and radio stations. In the ad, a husband initiates a conversation about contraception with his wife. The couple is then counseled jointly by a female doctor.

The ads communicated the recommended birth spacing interval (three years), the correct use of oral and injectable contraceptives, and that contraceptive use can improve a family’s economic wellbeing.

A need for more research

“In Afghanistan, there is a lack of health-related market research and data on consumer media. Our study’s findings will help fill this gap and inform our local partner’s [ASMO’s] social marketing activities and overall strategy,” said lead researcher Lauren Rosapep of SHOPS Plus.

Afghanistan has a high total fertility rate of 5.3. One-quarter of Afghan married women have an unmet need for family planning, and the modern contraceptive prevalence rate is 20 percent. The country seeks to reach a rate of 30 percent by 2020. However, this rate is currently growing at 0.7 percent annually, which is substantially lower than what is needed to achieve its goal. With this growth rate, Afghanistan will only reach a modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 24 percent by 2020, according to Family Planning 2020. 

Given this slower than desired growth, it is critically important for organizations such as ASMO to collect and use relevant data to maximize its family planning supply and demand generation activities. In this way, they will help to increase Afghanistan’s modern contraceptive prevalence rate.

SHOPS Plus surveyed 1,140 married women and 1,198 married men. Rosapep and her fellow SHOPS Plus researcher Tess Shiras presented this study as a poster at the Population Association of America Annual Meeting in April 2018. View the poster

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Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.