Promoting physical activity among tweens in Québec: the WIXX multimedia communication campaign


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Marilie Laferté, BA, Frédéric Therrien, BA, Ariane Bélanger-Gravel, PhD, François Lagarde, MA, & Lise Gauvin, PhD


This WellSpring article features the Québec-based WIXX campaign which is modeled on the successful American VERB™ campaign to promote physical activity among tweens.

Mass communication campaigns are an integral part of a comprehensive public health strategy to promote physical activity. Based on the successful American VERB™ campaign (Huhman et al., 2010), Québec en forme developed the WIXX multimedia communication campaign Québec en forme is an organization created through a partnership between the Québec government and the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation to support and maintain active living and healthy eating among Québec youth.

The WIXX campaign is adapted to reflect Québec’s cultural and language context. The campaign’s adaptations also reflect changes in the use of the Internet and social media. The WIXX campaign’s target population is tweens (aged 9 – 13 years), with an emphasis on girls, older tweens, sedentary youth, and those living in lower socioeconomic conditions. The campaign was launched in September 2012 throughout Québec and is slated to run until 2016. This article describes the development and early implementation of the WIXX campaign activities.

Objectives of the WIXX Campaign

  • Increase knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy, as well as promoting favourable social norms toward physical activity
  • Increase support from parents and other persons of influence
  • Publicize opportunities for physical activity through mass media advertising and community-based activities
  • Increase physical activity among tweens

Vision for Promoting Physical Activity

  • Physical activity is a fun and cool behaviour that is appealing for both boys and girls
  • Tweens try new activities that can easily be integrated into daily life and provide opportunities for fun, particularly with friends

WIXX Campaign Activities

Different sources of information were used to develop the WIXX campaign activities and messages (see Table 1):

  • Interviews with the VERB™ campaign planners
  • Two surveys on media habits and correlates of physical activity
  • Scientific literature on the impact of communication campaigns on health-related behaviours
  • Focus groups/interviews to develop and pre-test the WIXX brand and campaign messages
  • Focus groups/interviews to elaborate personas1 and pre-test website navigation
  • Post-advertising surveys

Table 1: The core components of the WIXX campaign

Table 1

Early Implementation of the WIXX Campaign

In the late summer of 2012, the WIXX brand was first introduced to tweens during KARV l’anti-gala, a sponsored TV event. Tweens were invited to register their profile and order a WIXX ambassador kit from the website (Figure 1).

This operation was closely followed by a very intensive paid advertising campaign (1200 GRPs)2 to boost awareness of WIXX. Subsequent paid advertising campaigns were less intensive (200-500 GRPs).

During the early months of the campaign, the concept of WIXX Zones was created (Figure 2), allowing schools, community centres and family events to introduce the brand to tweens by creating dedicated areas for WIXX physical activities to take place. The local partners were provided with specific toolkits and promotional items after ordering them online.

Figure 1. The WIXX ambassador kit

Ambassador Kit: Mail shipment that includes items to display in bedrooms (certificate, door hanger), items to wear (shoelaces, bracelet), a booklet and a sticker.

Figure 2. The WIXX Zone

A reserved space for tweens at existing WIXX events. Youth move and play simple games. They are given promotional items including collectible badges. Areas become opportunities to better understand the brand’s message associated with the pleasure of moving.

Feedback from these early adopters guided the campaign team in developing more needs-oriented support. Thus, two major promotional events were launched within a year:

  • Dance Like a WIXX: a choreography by Davy Boisvert, a popular Québec hip-hop dancer and host of a reality-show for kids (see WIXXTV). A tutorial of the choreography, posters and promotional items were available to whoever organized their own WIXX activity.
  • The WIXX Outdoor Challenge Tour: a mobile adventure race and leisure event for families during the summer of 2013 and 2014. The 1- to 2-kilometre race course for runners included 12 obstacles, surprises, and a lot of fun.

The WIXX campaign also adopted an intensive web-based strategy, particularly during the second year of implementation. Three separate Internet platforms were created for each audience: tweens, their parents, and local partners (Table 1).

The WIXX Missions (Figure 3), based on the gamification approach (Miller, Cafazzo, & Seto, 2014), were created to prompt participation in physical activity. To earn and accumulate points and to receive mission badges, tweens had to provide proof (e.g., videos, photos or drawings) of their physical activity, with their parents’ consent. Parents also had the option of receiving all updates posted by their child on the website. After earning a sufficient number of points, tweens received prizes (WIXX promotional items).

Figure 3. An example of the WIXX Missions

The missions are fun challenges that help youths move. A mission is composed of several steps; the young person must accomplish a number of challenges to earn points and badges per mission. The 33 missions, available on the website, consist of 116 fun and active games.

Conclusion and Lessons Learned

The WIXX campaign was developed to promote physical activity as a fun, cool and appealing behaviour for both boys and girls. During the early years of the campaign, one of the major objectives was to achieve a high level of awareness of the campaign. Interestingly, a mid-campaign survey showed that 70% of tweens were aware of the WIXX brand (Léger Marketing Inc., 2014).

The next step is to intensify the community- and web-based activities. Hence, a mobile application for the WIXX Missions was released in the fall of 2014 and public relations, contests and support will be intensified to support local partners’ appropriation of the WIXX campaign. Evaluation of outcomes is also ongoing.

About the Authors

Marilie Laferté is the WIXX Campaign Director at Québec en Forme.

Frédéric Therrien is the lead Communications Advisor for the WIXX campaign.

Ariane Bélanger-Gravel is an Assistant Professor of Communications at the Université Laval. She develops and evaluates interventions to promote health-related behaviours.

François Lagarde is Vice-President, Communications at the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation.

Lise Gauvin is a Researcher at the Centre de recherche du CHUM and a Professor of Public Health at the Université de Montréal. Her research focuses on environmental determinants of health-related behaviours.


1 Personas represent a major user group for a website. It gives a clear picture of the user's expectations and how they're likely to use the website. They describe real people and their backgrounds, goals, and values.

2 A campaign that buys media time can purchase a certain number of Gross Rating Points (GRPs). If 1% of the target audience sees an ad once, the ad earns 1 GRP. A score of 100 GRPs means that an average person in the target audience saw the ad one time. A score of 500 GRPs means that an average person in the target audience saw the ad five times. (Adapted from: Coffman, 2002)


Coffman, J. (2002). Beyond the usual suspects. The Evaluation Exchange, 8(3). Retrieved from

Huhman, M., Potter, L. D., Nolin, M. J., Piesse, A., Judkins, D. R., Banspach, S. W., & Wong, F. L. (2010). The Influence of the VERB Campaign on Children's Physical Activity in 2002 to 2006. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 638-645. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.142968

Léger Marketing Inc. (2014). Opinions et attitudes à l’égard d’un mode de vie physiquement actif: Rapport − Dyades parents-enfants (Volet enfants − 2014). Montréal: Léger Marketing.

Miller, A. S., Cafazzo, J. A., & Seto, E. (2014). A game plan: Gamification design principles in mHealth applications for chronic disease management. Health Informatics Journal (Epub ahead of print). doi:10.1177/1460458214537511

January 2015, Volume 26, No. 1

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