Why it’s important to talk about mosquitoes
For over a decade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has worked towards the global eradication of malaria. To date, the foundation has committed nearly $2 billion in grants to combat malaria and over $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The effort has resulted in a 25% drop in malaria incidences. But growing insecticide and drug resistance and increases in costs are threatening to wipe out past progress. In late 2013, the foundation adopted a new strategy, Accelerate to Zero, to focus on these new challenges. One of the three priorities is to mobilize support: give malaria a prominent place on the global agenda.
But – how do you get more people to start talking about mosquitoes?
Bill Gates noted on his blog:
“Sharks kill fewer than a dozen people every year and in the U.S. they get a week dedicated to them on TV every year. Mosquitoes kill 50,000 times as many people, but if there’s a TV channel that features Mosquito Week, I haven’t heard about it.”
Gates’ solution was to create a content marketing program around ‘Mosquito Week’ to get people talking.
Visual bite-sized content + an interesting look at the data
Gates introduced the concept of Mosquito Week on his blog Gates Notes with a series of infographics, videos and other interesting and share-worthy content. The result – hundreds of thousands of views, thousands of shares and coverage across global news sites, blogs and social media. In fact, just a month after the launch of Mosquito Week, a Google search for the term throws up 68,400 results.
Here’s the content that attracted people’s attention:
- Infographic: World’s Deadliest Animals – thisinfographic compares the number of people killed by sharks (only ten) to the number killed by mosquitos (725,000). The numbers have wide margin errors, but the larger point was clear – mosquitoes are the deadliest. The infographic was picked by many news sites. To give it an extra viral push, Bill Gates reposted it & his blog post on Mashable as a guest contributor.
- Series of short videos – Gates also posted a series of videos explaining the problem caused by mosquitos and highlighting some of the fixes being developed across the world. The most popular of these has received over 200,000 views.
- Movie Poster Skeeternado – Gates also shared a parody movie poster based on popular shark movie Sharknado to reach out to more people.
- Blog Posts – Finally, Gates wrote a new post on Mosquitos throughout the week. These posts spoke more about the challenges faced today (the very real dangers of human transmission of drug resistant strains of malaria) and the fixes being implemented in various third world countries. The language was simplified to ensure more people would understand it, and each post was accompanied by visual content.