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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

DoH goes retro with WashYourHandsington

Wrestler and actor Dwayne
Wrestler and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson cozies up to his wax likness as it is unveiled at Madame Tussaud's in New York on Wednesday, April 10, 2002. (Washington State Department of Health)

OLYMPIA -- The state Department of Health has a message for you for flu season: WashYourHandsington.

The agency's campaign to get you to get wash up, cover your cough and get your flu shot is summed up in a slogan that puts "Your Hands" between the Wash- and the -ington in the state's name. It comes complete with posters reminiscent of a 1950s tourism campaign, radio jingles and Internet videos.

Cheesy? A bit silly? Easy to make fun of? Yes to all, says Department spokesman Tim Church. Talk show hosts have smacked it around, and comedian George Lopez did a take off.

But it gets the point across, Church says. When people call to say they don't like this campaign about washing your hands and getting a flu shot, he contends "they may not like it but they're getting the message."

The internet video, which uses the campy radio jingle as background with images of sudsy hands clapping and smiling people at recognizable Washington locales, has had 35,000 hits since it went up in late December, which is more than most of the staid videos other departments post on the YouTube channel for Washington state government.

Funding for the campaign came from a portion of the $300,000 the federal government gave the state for flu prevention. The ad campaign didn't eat up the entire amount, he said, department also did research, conducted focus groups to determine why people don't get their flu shots and how to increase the rates of vaccination.

They could've done a boring public service announcement with someone saying "Hi, I'm doctor. Get your flu shot," Church said. But then who'd be talking about it?

They printed about 10,000 copies of the "WashYourHandsingtonposters distributed to local health districts, clinics and doctors' offices, as well as post cards and stickers. "I've heard some people are framing them and putting them up. They'll last longer that way than just pinned up on some bulletin board."


Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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