Grassroots Campaign for Howard Brown Health Center

Project Description:
Howard Brown Health Center is the Midwest’s largest LGBT health services center. Its work includes the Broadway Youth Center – a walk-in clinic providing free STD and AIDS screening, as well as counseling, to gay youths and young adults. Winger Marketing sought to increase the word-of-mouth buzz surrounding Howard Brown’s non-profit work in the community and the services available for young adults. Additionally, we sought to drive at-risk youth to Howard Brown’s free screenings for STDs and AIDS.


  • We created and executed an awareness stunt in which we draped obelisk statues in a gay Chicago neighborhood with 15-foot-tall condoms to promote safe sex awareness during National Condom Week.
  • We alerted the media, but our real goal was word-of-mouth – both online and in the neighborhoods Howard Brown serves. Our strategy included ensuring that the early morning time for the stunt coordinated with television morning show filming schedules as well as with Valentine’s Day weekend.
  • We worked diligently to find a sponsor to support the construction of the condoms. Without successfully finding a condom company to sponsor the stunt, Winger went forward to construct the giant “condoms” out of fabric ourselves with the help of Howard Brown’s institutional partners.
  • We coordinated extensively with the City of Chicago and local alderman in order to secure permission for the campaign. Our budget for the fabric was $1,200. Howard Brown arranged through their own connections for rental of cherry harvesting equipment to drape the condoms.
  • Winger released news alerts about the condoms at the last minute both to generate excitement and to avoid protests from anti-gay factions.
  • Howard Brown increased visibility by sending volunteers to distribute complimentary condoms on nearby train platforms to early morning commuters.

Our Solutions:

  • The stunt was executed flawlessly as residents gathered around the cherry harvesting equipment taking cell phone pictures in the early morning – exactly the kind of excitement that builds effective social media campaigns. The condoms over the pylons remained up for a week. The stunt will become an annual tradition for the non-profit, and with each year they will be increasingly affiliated with this community.
  • Word-of-mouth was strong with hundreds of blog mentions.
  • Early morning commuters are primarily young adults who live in the neighborhoods Howard Brown serves – an ideal target market. Howard Brown chose not to “brand” the condoms that were distributed because users tend to mistrust non-name brand condoms.
  • Howard Brown received media mentions from CBS News, the Chicago Reader (our largest alt weekly), Digg, and a week-in-review photo nod from the Chicago Tribune.
  • Other measurable results include a spike in STD screenings during National Condom Week.
  • One surprising result – improved internal relations at Howard Brown, generating enthusiasm among its strongest supporters and talkers – its employees.

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