Get Tested and Get a Foursquare Badge from MTV

To say MTV has had a busy week in the geo-location market would be an understatement.  Having established a partnership with Foursquare months ago, they rolled out their first unlockable badge on Monday with the “VMA Moonman Badge.”  The news of them giving away a free trip to the 2010 Video Music Awards to one lucky fan who unlocks the badge caused a flurry of buzz around the web, but not nearly as much as their second badge announcement.

In April of 2009, MTV launched their “It’s Your Sex Life” initiative in an effort to get young people more knowledgeable about the prevention of both sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.  According to MTV, 50% of persons will contract an STD by the age of 25 and 1 out of 3 women will be pregnant by age 20.

On September 1st, MTV released the new GYT badge to encourage people to “Get Yourself Talking” – “Get Yourself Tested” and announced another contest.  Everyone who unlocks the badge thru the end of September will be registered to win a trip for 2 to attend a live taping with backstage passes to the MTV show “10 on Top” in New York.  To unlock the badge: 1) follow MTV on Foursquare 2) visit a medical center to get tested 3) shout “GYT” somewhere in the message when you check-in the venue. Official Rules.

This badge moves the location app provider Foursquare into uncharted territory as they had not offered a cause-specific badge until now.

Passing out condoms at schools and teaching anything except abstinence as the only method of birth control is still a controversial topic in many communities.  MTV and Foursquare embracing the STD and unplanned pregnancy problem by trying to remove the embarrassment stigma associated with openly talking about personal health and education is a tremendous step forward.  Having never visited the “It’s Your Sex Life” website before, I was amazed at how open and honest the interactions were among the persons participating on the site.  This is truly wonderful to see and I commend MTV for this initiative.

The purpose of unlocking the badge and the contest is to get people to actually visit a medical center to get tested and MTV is helping to make this as easy as possible by letting folks search for a std testing location on the web or by texting a zip code to 498669 (GYTNOW).

Admittedly, there will be a large number of persons that will simply visit any medical category venue (ex. dentist office or veterinarian) and perform the required shout without actually getting an STD test just to unlock the badge.  Is this a sign of failure with the MTV and Foursquare GYT campaign? I would argue no. Even though they may not have gotten a test that day the seed has been planted in their head about the importance of it.  Even more important than that would be the negative stigma of being open about maintaining a healthy sexual lifestyle is nothing to hide from or be ashamed about.  Every time they see that badge in their app it will serve as a reminder of the importance of getting tested and the MTV GYT campaign effort which all originated from a simple act of checking in and shouting an acknowledgment supporting STD testing at a medical facility.  Breaking down that barrier is the important first step to moving in the right direction.  Even though they may not have been tested that day, it will help to start them down the responsible path of both talking about and getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.  And that is a successful campaign.

What do you think about the MTV initiative and the Foursquare partnership?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This was orignally written for and posted in the Health & Fitness section at AL.com by: Chad Elkins – Find Chad on Twitter and Foursquare