Pregnant Teen Boys? City Agency Drives Debate With Transit Ads

By Ted Cox on May 14, 2013 3:23pm | Updated on May 14, 2013 5:01pm

 The Chicago Department of Public Health seeks to drive home its pregnancy-prevention campaign with images of how teen boys might look if pregnant.
The Chicago Department of Public Health seeks to drive home its pregnancy-prevention campaign with images of how teen boys might look if pregnant.
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Chicago Department of Public Health

CHICAGO — If boys could get pregnant, well, it might just cause traffic accidents on Michigan Avenue.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is launching its 2013 teen pregnancy-prevention campaign with transit ads featuring pictures of boys as they might look if pregnant.

Under the one-word heading "Unexpected," the campaign is intended to "spark conversations among adolescents and adults on the issue of teen pregnancy and to make the case that teen parenthood is more than just a girl's responsibility."

"Improving the health and well-being of our youth is a key component in our comprehensive effort to make Chicago the healthiest city in the nation," said Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair. "These ads work to increase education and awareness which will, in turn, help reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in Chicago."

The ads are being concentrated on public buses, trains, platforms and shelters. According to Health Department spokesman Brian Richardson, they're also being focused on high schools where there's been a heightened incidence of teen pregnancy.

The campaign is being carried out by the department's Office of Adolescent and School Health.

Although the "Unexpected" heading is new, the images are actually years old and were created by Milwaukee-based Serve Marketing for the United Way of Greater Milwaukee. They're in part credited with a five-year decline in pregnancy in the 15-17 age group in Milwaukee through last October. The Chicago Health Department received permission to use them pro bono in its own campaign.

The Chicago campaign is trying to drive the debate through Facebook and Twitter, but it turned out the hashtag #unexpected was already being used.

Still, the department expected the provocative campaign to create its own buzz, even though teen pregnancy similarly has been declining in Chicago in recent years.

"Our goal with this campaign was to get people talking about teen pregnancy and to think about it in a different way than most ad campaigns do," Richardson said. "And by that measure it's been successful."

 The campaign using images of seemingly pregnant teenage boys actually originated in Milwaukee.
The campaign using images of seemingly pregnant teenage boys actually originated in Milwaukee.
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Chicago Department of Public Health

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.

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