Kansas Health Foundation's Can't Wait to Read Campaign

Brand: Kansas Health Foundation
Lead Agency: Signal Theory
Award Level: Bronze
Year: 2021
Categories: Not-for-Profit

Campaign Summary

The Kansas Health Foundation's research inspired the ultimate learning tool to help parents, grandparents, and caregivers develop positive reading habits with their children.

Campaign Objectives

Sixty-three percent of Kansas fourth-graders won't pass their fourth-grade reading tests. These kids are four times more likely not to graduate from high school, and two-thirds will likely end up in jail or poverty.

The Kansas Health Foundation created a multifaceted, statewide communication and marketing campaign to drive awareness of childhood literacy's importance with a focus on improving reading skills for young children across Kansas.

Campaign Objectives included:

  • Increase awareness of how poor literacy impacts academics, health, and future outcomes.
  • Educate a statewide community of parents, caregivers, and educators.
  • Promote the Kansas Health Foundation as a supportive innovator in literacy education.

For a childhood literacy campaign to succeed, it had to go beyond raising awareness. It needed to motivate Kansas families to take action and introduce words and reading to the young children in their lives. It accomplished this with two phases.

Campaign Strategy

Through focus groups conducted during this campaign's discovery phase, it became clear that families across Kansas face daunting challenges and barriers that stand between them and time to read with their children. The Kansas Health Foundation needed to not only provide a clear set of tools for parents to engage in a timely way but also implement this with positive reinforcement and help increase the likelihood of repeat behavior. This stimulus supported the cognitive growth of good habits and families reading together.

Because of their time spent on the go and engaging with mobile entertainment, the Kansas Health Foundation knew mobile and digital would be critical to the campaign. Its solution was easy-to-fit-in ideas to motivate and was developed into a 28-day SMS/email program to support positive habits. The campaign messaging was further endorsed with traditional and digital media to provide reach and personalization.

While monitoring response and engagement with the campaign, the organization pivoted to target Southwest Kansas, which had the lowest users and session time, and focused on such cities as Garden City, Dodge City, and Liberal with more than 14,000 children between the ages of 0 to 9.

The Hispanic families in these target cities are very community-dependent and have established connections with pastors, health clinics, schools, and businesses. The Kansas Health Foundation couldn't just start advertising. It knew that to engage this audience around a sensitive subject, and with a literacy tool, it needed to be distributed through the trusted community of influencers. The organization developed a book Just Like You, built on authenticity and positive reinforcement and paved the way to break down cultural barriers. The book was distributed to schools, community centers, and churches in the target communities, providing value and supporting bilingual learning.

Campaign Creative Solution

To reach busy parents, the foundation needed to get their attention. It had to be straightforward in showing the impact and importance of reading and communicating the sense of urgency. However, it also needed to be careful not to overwhelm or make parents feel like the situation is hopeless, instead demonstrating compassion and offering hope.

Early learning is one of the most important stages in child development. This stage is like a window that quickly narrows and closes.The Kansas Health Foundation used the idea of a window as a key visual cue across all of the digital creative representing this campaign. Its simplicity was easily identifiable and created an immediate impact.

The Kansas Health Foundation also felt it was important to bring a physical element and tool to the campaign that was tactile and could bring families together in the same physical space. It published an interactive bilingual storybook supported by in-depth research and time spent getting to know the target audience, specifically Hispanic families in Southwest Kansas. The familial story, bright colors, approachable characters, and dynamic illustrations were designed and focus-group-tested with advisors for optimal cultural authenticity, sensitivity, and resonance. Just like the characters, its audience could learn to read.


Results included:

  • 24,787,755 total impressions
  • 11,476 books distributed (9,071 physical, 2,405 digital) to 80 percent of the target population
  • 55,612 website sessions to connect the audience with resources that helped improve childhood literacy
  • 5,195 resource downloads via the website
  • 344 email and 678 SMS subscriptions to 28-day automated English/Spanish program
  • 39,368 emails delivered with an 8 percent click-to-open-rate (CTOR)
  • 11,005,768 social media (Instagram, Facebook) impressions and 64,955 clicks with a 0.59 percent click-through rate (CTR) (Industry benchmark = 0.55 percent)
  • Phase Two created brand lift with a 13.3 point increase in ad recall and 7.3 point increase in awareness, both four points higher than the nonprofit norm
  • 45 augmented reality (AR) frame shares and 370 captures
  • 299,196 YouTube video views of influencer content with a 26 percent average video view rate (Industry benchmark = 26 percent)
  • 22 earned media stories

"Kansas Health Foundation's Can't Wait to Read Campaign." 2021 International ECHO Awards Bronze Winner, Not-for-Profit. Brand: Kansas Health Foundation. Lead Agency: Signal Theory.