The Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (TCCP) and Jhpiego began the design of a new voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) demand creation campaign in 2011. Drawing from the Diffusion of Innovations theoretical framework, TCCP developed a new “age-aware” communication strategy that divided the primary target audience into two groups: one for boys and young men aged 10-19 years, and another for men ages 20-34.
Objectives and Creative Concept
Objectives for both audiences focused on the benefits of VMMC, knowing the procedure is safe, knowing when and where one can receive services, knowing the advantages of obtaining services during non-peak months, and getting circumcised in a health facility by a trained VMMC provider. However, specific messaging differed by age group. Additional objectives for older men included increasing the acceptability of VMMC for older men, married men, and men without children, and communication with one’s sexual partner about VMMC.
The chosen creative concept focused on a call to action – Pata Tohara (“Get Circumcised”), and highlighted the key benefits found to be most appealing to target audience members: circumcision provides protection and enhances cleanliness. The facts of male circumcision already common knowledge among many, so the campaign aimed to encourage audiences to internalize how male circumcision could make sense in the context of their lives. In 2013, as the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare began to pilot neonatal medical male circumcision, TCCP incorporated strategies for its promotion into the communication strategy as well.
In addition to targeting uncircumcised men, the strategy included circumcised men, and encouraged them to promote the procedure and other HIV prevention behaviors. Men’s sexual partners were also a secondary audience, encouraging them to insist on safer sex practices after their male partner is circumcised. Sexual partners of older men were targeted as well, with the aim of deepening and broadening dialogue and understanding of male circumcision, and addressing misconceptions. The strategy emphasized enhanced outreach to older groups that are hard to reach by implementing program activities in appropriate social environments, including the workplace, the family, faith groups, and bars.
The campaign also included key messages and materials for key influencers, including service providers, community leaders, religious leaders, traditional leaders, and the media. Messages focused on dispelling misconceptions, thus creating a more supportive and conducive environment for men who have chosen to undergo VMMC.