By Melanie Davis, PhD, Consortium Co-President
A new website devoted to the sexual health of older adults is gaining enormous amounts of attention while shining a spotlight on the need for the Consortium’s work to change attitudes about sexuality and aging.
SaferSex4Seniors.org was developed by a team of sexuality educators, trainers and therapists assisted by DDB Worldwide, a global ad agency, and website developer Frank Stallone. The agency created a 30-second public service announcement for internet distribution during April, which has been designated as Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month. After gaining permission to include the URL for SaferSex4Seniors.org at the end of the video, production was close to complete.
The content development team for SaferSex4Seniors.org created easy-to-read fact sheets on topics related to sexually transmitted infections, safer sex, relationships, talking with professionals about sex, and long-term care rights. The format of the site also enables visitors to ask answers, which site contributors answer online.
DDB Worldwide knows how to make an impression: The agency created memorable campaigns for the Volkswagon Beetle and for Merck’s “One Less” campaign to encourage parents to have daughters immunized with the Gardisil HPV vaccine. The video DDB created shows fully clothed older adult couples engaged in sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, all set to original music. A brief safer sex message runs over the images, ending with the URL for SaferSex4Seniors.org
At mid-day Wednesday, April 11, Fast Company broke the story with an exclusive scoop, followed by a rapid wave of online press and commentary. By Saturday morning, April 14, the PSA had 322,000 views on YouTube, and the SaferSex4Seniors.org website was consistently recording 50-70 people actively on the website at any given time. More than 40 media outlets had picked up on the story. The site’s Twitter feed @ss4s_org is quickly gaining followers with the hashtag #safersex4seniors.
Lessons Learned; Mission Reinforced
Click-throughs from the video to the website show that the campaign is working with even greater success that DDB predicted. Whether due to idle curiosity or sincere need for information, people are visiting SaferSex4Seniors.org and being given the opportunity to learn more about safer sex and related topics.
It is not surprising that much of the media commentary reinforces the need for the Consortium’s work to enhance and advance the sexual health, rights and education of older adults and the professionals who serve them. The video has struck a nerve, exposing attitudes that older adult sexuality is unsavory at best. Fortunately, most of the critiques eventually come around to acknowledging the importance of the safer sex message of the video and the website. While the new campaign is not a Consortium initiative, it illustrates the importance of all of us working together toward common goals. In time, we will be closer to universal acceptance that sexuality and older age are wonderfully, beautifully compatible.
To watch the video, visit SaferSex4Seniors.og. While you’re there, visit the site’s library of FAQs or post a question for an expert on the site to answer.