Marketing To Latinos: A Guide to the In-Culture Approach Part 2
Part 2 Case Studies | Part 1 Case Studies
  CASE STUDY: Folic Acid Awareness Campaign
March of Dimes

    NOTE: no advertising media is available for this case study. Please contact the agency directly if you would like additional information.


The March of Dimes is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. As part of their overall campaign to reach all women of childbearing age with an educational message about the role of B-vitamin folic acid in preventing birth defects of the brain and spine, the March of Dimes identified Hispanic females as a key target. Hispanic women are at increased risk of giving birth to a baby with this type of defect while at the same time they are much less likely to be aware that folic acid can help reduce the risk.

The Facts
  • Hispanic women in the US are 40% - 50% more likely to give birth to babies with neural tube defects compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian women.
  • Latinas have the highest fertilty rate at 2.98 births per woman compared to 1.8 for non-Hispanic Caucasians and 2.4 for African-Americans.
  • Folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects at birth by as much as 70%.
  • More than half of pregnancies among Latinas are unplanned.
  • Hispanic women are less likely to receive prenatal care in the first trimester than non-Hispanics.
  • There is little awareness of folic acid, its benefits and its role to help prevent neural tube defects in the unborn.
  • There is little awareness of the March of Dimes.
The Objective

Generate awareness of the benefits of folic acid among Hispanic women of childbearing age and get them to consider taking a folic acid vitamin/tablet as part of a healthy diet.

The Barriers
  • Hispanic women tend to believe that their diet is sufficient to get the vitamins they need until they get pregnant, at which time they will take whatever is recommended by their doctor.
  • There is a belief that destiny plays an important role in the outcome of pregnancies and that there is not much they can do to avoid birth defects.
  • Multivitamins have the perceived disadvantage of causing weight gain.
The Challenge
  • How to reach sexually active Hispanic women under 18 who are not considering pregnancy as well as women over 18 who are contemplating pregnancy, with a strong prevention message of birth defects and folic acid benefit communication.
  • Separately, increase calls to the MOD Resource Center that provides vital information on prenatal health and create traffic to the new website.
The Solution

The target audience was divided between pregnancy contemplators and non-contemplators each with a different advertising approach.


The contemplators were reached with a TV and radio message that counteracts the Latina's sense of fatalism that there is little they can do to affect the outcome of their pregnancy.

The non-contemplators were reached with very tailored, youth-oriented posters, postcard and brochures that do not focus on babies but rather on the importance of taking care of their body and health while underlining the many benefits of folic acid to prevent various diseases.

A Spanish-language website "" was created to provide in-depth information on pregnancy and health issues with special attention given to Hispanic specific health issues. All advertising materials feature the Resource Center telephone number and the website address.

The TV :30 commercial, called "Carritos" features a moving caravan of babies in shopping carts with signs that read "My mommy took folic acid." The announcer says that when you become pregnant, it's not like going shopping. You cannot pick the ideal baby, but you can prevent him or her from serious birth defects of the brain and spine.

Public Relations

The media outreach campaign included placement of public service announcements on national TV, spot TV in key markets, radio and print vehicles. In addition, press releases were disseminated in English and Spanish announcing the launch of the folic acid health education and birth defect prevention campaign.


The campaign was launched in January of 2001. At six months tracking, the MOD media exposure was very strong with more airings of the "Carritos" TV PSA. than MOD had in a year for their general market campaign.

Calls (in Spanish) into the MOD Resource Center increased from 600 to 2900 after the campaign and hits on the website also increased dramatically (697,062 to date).

Agency: JMCP Publicidad