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Social Norms Alcohol Media Campaign for 2000-2001
Health Enhancement Services
University Health Service
Northern Illinois University

The social marketing program at Northern Illinois University using campus alcohol norms has been conducted since the Fall 1989 semester. During the past 12 years, Health Enhancement Services (HES) of the University Health Service has employed various strategies to communicate the selected norms messages to the students.

All posters regarding alcohol issues are norms-based. The main message has nearly always been "Most students drink moderately," with supporting messages of, "Most students drink 5 or fewer drinks when they party," or "Most men drink 0-5 drinks & most women drink 0-3 drinks when they party," depending on the year.

Most recently, our main message has been, "Most students drink moderately. .. . here's how: . . ." Our supporting messages are alcohol protective behaviors which we identified from our annual survey. We found that the following 5 behaviors were related to one another and also related to less risk of physical injury to self and others: 1) Pace drinks to one or less per hour, 2) Keep track of how much you drink, 3) Determine in advance how many drinks you will consume, 4) Choose not to drink, and 5) Avoid drinking games.

For NIU students, 76% reported always or usually practicing at least one of these behaviors when they "party." Since these protective behaviors are also normative, they have become part of our main messages. We are still awaiting our Spring 2001 ACHA/NCHA frequency reports to identify whether or not we have been able to "grow protection," to borrow a phrase from Michael Haines, my predecessor at HES, which would be demonstrated by an increase in reported use of alcohol protective behaviors.

The primary methodology used in the social marketing campaign at HES is print media. Other methods have been supportive of the print campaign over the years, as well. Currently, print media is focused in three main areas:


Campus/Bus Posters. We keep campus and bus posters up for two weeks at a time. The information on the campus and bus posters is identical, even though the poster orientation is different (campus - portrait; bus - landscape). We change posters 8 times in a year, with no new posters put up after Thanksgiving during Fall Semester and Spring Break during Spring Semester. Some of the posters are identical though most are at least different designs, if not different information. Similar posters were posted both Fall and Spring semesters.

Healthy Rewards Poster. This is a poster which includes a number of different health messages, including social norm information about alcohol and tobacco. It is distributed to every residence hall room, preferably at the beginning of the Fall semester. Putting up the poster is reinforced by a $5 incentive if our student representative finds the poster up in a student's room.

Campus Newspaper Advertisements

In general, HES places 2 alcohol-related ads per week up until Thanksgiving during Fall semester and up until Spring Break during Spring semester. Exceptions are the first week of school. We don't generally put anything in the paper then since it is filled with other advertisements that week and visibility would be poor. Similar ads were placed Fall and Spring semesters. Total ads placed during Fiscal Year 2001 included the following:

Fall 2000 - placed ads 19 times, some ads were duplicates.
Spring 2001 - placed ads 16 times, some ads were duplicates.


Handouts and fliers are available throughout the semester at various resource sites around campus. Some of the handouts pertaining to alcohol and other drugs are social norms-based, while others are more strictly informational.

This information was kindly provided by Amy Franklin, Health Enhancement Services, University Health Service, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. If you would like additional information regarding NIU's alcohol media campaign, you can write to Amy at:

**Portions of the information presented on this page were originally prepared by Michael Haines and Richard Rice and are printed here with their permission.