Northwest Georgia Public Health District

Raising awareness while empowering teens


Rountree Group help raise awareness while empowering teens in all of Northwest Georgia.


  • Raise awareness of current local situation related to HIV/STD’s statistics among area teens in Dalton, GA
  • Introduce statistics in a way that would intrigue, educate and scare local teens about the facts
  • Empower teens to seek additional information about HIV/STD’s from local sources and open the lines of communication with their parents or peers


To better understand the level of knowledge (or lack thereof) of teens in Murray and Whitfield counties regarding HIV/STD’s, Rountree Group conducted in-depth focus groups at area schools. The sessions included between 10 and 20 students and each lasted 50 minutes. In addition, questionnaires and surveys were distributed at malls, ball fields and the local college. In total, information was gathered from 275 teens divided into age groups of 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 years old.  The responses were sobering.

According to the research, the majority of teens in the two counties were sexually active. The average teen had a first sexual encounter in the sixth grade.  Many knew little about how diseases are transmitted sexually, and most indicated they received the majority of their information about sex from their friends. Clearly, it was a case of “the blind leading the blind,” and with utterly tragic consequences.  The teens themselves said any campaign to better educate their peers regarding the dangers of sexual conduct would have to be frank and hard-hitting. Hence, the direction of the creative began to take shape.


Youth ages 10 to 19 in Murray and Whitfield Counties, which are in Dalton, Ga.


A logo was developed that would be easily recognizable and tied to the program. The campaign theme: “Wake Up: Teen Sex Has Consequences” spoke directly to the target audience and was delivered through a number of communications vehicles.

With significant teen input (from all demographics of the community), radio commercials were developed and a series of billboard designs followed.  Additionally, slides were developed to run prior to movies screenings at the local theater. Using local talent, two TV commercials were produced and aired throughout the spring and summer, the best time to reach our audience. T-shirts proclaiming “WAKE UP” were distributed to 600 teens. All messages were pre-tested by focus groups.

The messages were straight-forward and hard-hitting, and were delivered in both English and Spanish to reach the large Hispanic population in the area. They let the teens know that a new case of HIV/AIDS is contracted by a teen each and every hour. They pointed out that when you have sex with a person, you run the risk of becoming infected with a STD carried by others he or she has had sex with before you.

And it didn’t take long to realize the campaign would hit Northwest Georgia like a “ton of bricks” and literally “WAKE UP” the community.


Research following the campaign was conducted to determine if the original objective had been met – to enhance the awareness of the consequences of being sexually active and stimulate conversations. In fact, 77 percent of the teens surveyed indicated they were aware of the campaign. Major stories appeared in the local daily newspaper (including front page stories) and on area radio and TV stations. Most importantly, a separate phone line that was established “tracked” inbound calls that lead to numerous educational conversations about HIV/STD’s. Local parents, health educators, parents and teachers indicated an overwhelming number of discussions had taken place due to the campaign.

This campaign encouraged open discussions about a topic that can not only save a life, but also can unalterably change the quality of a young person’s life forever.

Research and strong feedback shows AWAKE had an impact in the lives of teens in Murray and Whitfield counties. But impacting a teen’s life this year will undoubtedly have implications long into the years to come.