As soon as the overturning of Roe v. Wade was leaked, people not just in the States but across the world knew that many affected Americans would be upset and frightened of the future ramifications of this decision. Working with its intelligent production studio, ArtBot, creative agency Critical Mass launched an awareness campaign for the secure sexual health app Euki, using a targeted media strategy for people who may no longer have access to abortion. After an initial partner dropped out “due to ‘the political nature’ of the creative”, the agency stood firm in its beliefs to help reproductive health company Ibis, non-profit organisation Women Help Women and its ‘Euki’ app de-stigmatise the conversation about abortion and sexual health - preventing it from continuing to be used as an oppressive political tool. Volunteers from Critical Mass - largely from the agency D&I board’s women's affinity group - used open and honest messaging to reassure the audience of Euki’s secure and non-data-collecting design, and even had to oppose and control some unfortunate “vitriolic responses” to the campaign.
Speaking to LBB’s Ben Conway, the Critical Mass team discusses how it created a transparent, representative campaign that aligned with Euki’s existing design, reacting to the Roe V. Wade ruling in the quickest and most effective way, and the importance of healthcare privacy and autonomy as a “fundamental right” - not a wedge issue to be exploited.
LBB> Talk to us about your intelligent production studio, ‘ArtBot’ - what capabilities does the studio offer and why was ArtBot (and more widely, Critical Mass) suited to working on this campaign?
Critical Mass> ArtBot sets out to solve our global clients’ challenge of creating personalised content that actually connects with people by merging technology, data, and design. The studio specialises in creating intelligent production frameworks that marry the art of creative engineering, automation, and technical enablement - all without sacrificing quality. Our goal in starting ArtBot is to create beautiful design at a scale that meets a brand’s standards and integrity, all while enabling optimisation and personalisation for the audience it’s intended for.
Much of CM (and particularly ArtBot) is driven to success by our female leadership, many of whom were eager to work with Euki after understanding their values. We were thrilled to support their message of inclusivity and bodily autonomy. Our passion for social injustices, coupled with creative excellence, made for a perfect partnership with Euki - quickly becoming friends whom they trust to circulate their messaging to a wider audience than they previously had access to.
LBB> How did you get involved with this project? When did you first get approached and how long was the process in total?
Critical Mass> Once the disturbing overturn of Roe v. Wade was leaked, our women's affinity group knew that a lot of folks would be upset and scared for their futures. They got to brainstorming on what we could possibly do to make our employees feel safer with such uncertainty about their autonomy on the horizon. We looked to our internal tools, and how we could use them for this purpose. Our newest studio ArtBot was a perfect fit. A team member based in our Chicago office originally connected with Euki. After our due diligence of looking into who they were, how they'd operate, and what their intentions were - we knew they'd be the perfect partners for CM in this. They agreed, deciding to use ArtBot to support them, while empowering the right people in the industry. While we could make our own app, our thought process was always ‘making the biggest impacts in the shortest amount of time.’
LBB> The campaign’s social media campaign specifically targeted people who may no longer have access to abortion in their state - how was this achieved and how did it influence your design choices?
Critical Mass> The bullseye of our target audience was women in states where their reproductive rights are most at immediate risk. We considered the people we would be reaching in our copy tone and design - including the entire spectrum of folks who can get pregnant. In our hearts and minds were always the people who were likely fearful, frustrated, and needed to know an app out there was truly looking out for their interests.
LBB> When working on a campaign for a sexual health app, what design choices and principles do you have to consider? What choices did you make concerning colour, accessibility, inclusivity, etc., considering the target audience and their privacy concerns?
Critical Mass> We worked with one of Euki’s amazing designers, Ania Troszkiewicz, to continue the design and illustration style of the Euki brand. It was important to us for our audience to see visual consistency between the app and our ads. Any trust that was already in place, we were sure to maintain. We wanted to make sure we were representative, so we used inclusive illustrations of people who are non-femme and non-binary, and iconography that wasn't strictly heteronormative. When addressing privacy concerns, we were extra clear with our messaging that Euki does not collect data - ensuring peace of mind for people who use the app.
LBB> After Roe v. Wade was overturned, you say that there is now an increased fear for many women that tracking sexual and reproductive health could be dangerous. With that in mind - how did you design this campaign to alleviate fears and invite women to use Euki if they’re worried about being put at risk?
Critical Mass> This is a very real fear for many people today. We made sure that these ads were not based on any data other than location, gender, and age - which users provide to Meta. We also assured users that they were not being retargeted, and stressed through our messaging that Euki does not collect data. Euki is an app that was created by sexual and reproductive health researchers and making that clear was important as well. Euki is not a for-profit app. Because of everyone’s palpable fear, transparency was key.
This project had five-or-so rounds of iterations. And, as stated above, it was extremely important that the information we were putting into people's feeds was transparent, clear, and accurate. The team at Euki was extremely collaborative and we’re quite pleased with the final product.
LBB> Despite the targeted media buy - did you have to consider that supporters of the Roe v. Wade overturn would potentially see the campaign too? Did this influence the campaign at all?
Critical Mass> Our target audience was broad - anybody who could possibly use Euki’s services. We didn’t want to restrict anyone based on political interest or affiliation, so of course, it would reach people who are in favour of the overturn. We did end up having to eventually limit commenting on in-feed ads in response to some vitriolic responses from some. But, it was important to us that anyone that truly needs this information or any kind of private service has the opportunity to download the app. We firmly hold the belief that the right to bodily autonomy, healthcare, and information about sexual health should be available to everyone without exception.
LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this project - and how did you overcome it?
Critical Mass> The first challenge was simply time. We knew with so much fear in people’s minds, that time was of the essence. From the moment the pending decision leaked to the moment this campaign went live, like many, we were on the edge of our seats trying to figure out what we could do to fix this atrocity. We were fueled by a sense of urgency - a passion project that rose up from reaction. A group of CM volunteers (largely composed of the women's affinity group from our D&I Board) collaborated with our partners at Euki to build out the creative, which the team at ArtBot would bring to market. Most happened to come from states where their bodies are most at risk and were eager to enact change - and channel their understandable anger into something productive that could help others.
The second challenge was fear of engaging with a polarising topic. Initially, we were going to undertake this campaign with a third-party partner who, late in the process, opted out due to - in their words - "the political nature" of the creative. This was disappointing, but ultimately it was important to us that we stood firm in our belief that everyone should have the right to privacy and access to any information they need to make informed choices about their healthcare.
And it’s important our partners hold those beliefs, too. The limiting of these rights is, sadly, a political act - but the nature of the app itself is not political. As long as the right to privacy and autonomy is framed as a political choice rather than a fundamental right, it can be exploited as a wedge issue. Our hope is that the work of Ibis through Euki and campaigns like this further helps to de-stigmatise the conversation about abortion and sexual health, so that they can no longer be used as an oppressive political tool.