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NFL Partnership Promotes Public Health to Nine Million People

Posted By Shawn Richards, Jennifer Brown, and Pam Pontones, Friday, February 6, 2015
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The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts have partnered to promote an influenza vaccination, hand washing and infectious disease awareness campaign. Now in its second year, this campaign, “Join Blue Prevent the Flu (JBPF),” reached over 10 million people during the 2014-2015 flu season.

The main messages of the campaign included:
  • Get Your Flu Shot
  • Clean your Hands Often—Use Soap and Water
  • Cover Your Cough and Sneeze—Use a Tissue or Your Sleeve
  • Contain Your Illness—Stay Home When You’re Sick

The innovative partnership highlighted disease prevention and health education by using the marketing power of the Indianapolis Colts football organization. The ISDH sought this partnership due to the near-perfect market to direct the ISDH health messages and the alignment of football season and flu season. A few of the highlights of the JBPF campaign included:
  • The digital game-day recaps sent by the Colts after every game via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram included 19 different customized public health messages. The messages covered influenza-related statistics and vaccination reminders, education about Enterovirus and shigellosis outbreaks occurring in Indiana, promotion of the ISDH Ebola Call Center, and hand washing. The analytics provided by the Indianapolis Colts found that 9,339,474 people were reached using the game-day recap during the regular and postseason games. For an example, go to
  • The Colts promoted National Influenza Vaccination Week on the website, the Colts Facebook Page, Twitter, and a prepared Twitter message sent by the Colts Stampede (an online Colts fan community).
  • The ISDH supported the Bleed Blue Blood Drive and Health Fair, where the ISDH provided an influenza knowledge/attitudes/beliefs survey on influenza symptoms and prevention along with an interactive hand washing activity.
  • Indianapolis Colts player Matt Hasselbeck served as the team’s influenza spokesperson. Two influenza vaccination and hand washing videos featuring Hasselbeck and the Indiana State Health Commissioner were produced and featured on the ISDH YouTube channel located at and the ISDH influenza website at
  • A hand washing and influenza vaccination commercial produced by the Indianapolis Colts was played on the Jumbotron at every Colts home game. The commercial featured the Indiana Health Commissioner “immunizing” Blue, the Indianapolis Colts mascot.
  • A full-page color ad was included in every game-day program about influenza and antibiotic resistance. An example is provided at
  • Mirror clings promoting hand washing and featuring the ISDH and JBPF logos were installed in all stadium-level bathrooms and hand sanitizer stations. View the image of the mirror cling at
The social media presence using the game-day recaps reached 9,339,474 people, and the 650,000 fans who attended Colts home games at Lucas Oil Stadium had the opportunity to see the mirror clings, commercial, and stadium stills. Additionally, the hand washing messages provided on hand sanitizer stations and bathroom mirror clings were posted at all other events at Lucas Oil Stadium, including NCAA games, the Big Ten Championships, concerts, motor sports, high school football games, and conventions; these events reached as many as 1.5 million additional people. The ISDH and Colts partnership was used to decrease the effect of communicable diseases in Indiana by promoting hand washing, disease information and education, and influenza vaccination.

Shawn Richards, BS is Outbreak Supervisor; Jennifer Brown, DVM, MPH, DACVPM is State Public Health Veterinarian; and Pam Pontones, MA is State Epidemiologist and Director of the Epidemiology Resource Center at Indiana State Department of Health. For more information, see the CSTE influenza page.

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