A nonprofit organization organized the Truth Campaign called the American Legacy Foundation which aimed to reduce smoking by the youth between 12-17 in the US since the year 1999 (Woolston, 2012). The campaign was expanded to reach the rest of the world the following year after its success. It aimed at changing social norms and reducing youth smoking by allowing teenagers to make informed choices about tobacco by exposing the truth about the industry and its products. Being the only campaign that was not directed by the tobacco industry, it was able to deliver the message without any additional backlash from its target audience and became the largest youth smoking prevention campaign. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement provided the funding for its operations which promoted the prohibition of marketing tobacco to the youth (Woolston, 2012). Before the campaign, a team was created to perform extensive scoping research which was to provide details on the smoking population and brand models. The team also did a literature review on the previous strategies which were conducted and how effective they were in reducing tobacco consumption in teenagers. After a thorough analysis of the information, the directors began working on the design of the campaign.
The Truth Initiative majorly targeted the youth between 12-17 and the key secondary audience of young adults between 18-24 who are important role models of the former group (Woolston, 2012). It appealed to their emotions since it was discovered that teens knew the negative effects of tobacco but decided to smoke because of peer pressure and the need to be popular in school. According to the initial research, tobacco was just a tool of individualism and rebellion to indicate that the teens were in control of making their own decisions. In the context of their lives, they did not consider smoking an important issue, and it had nothing to do with rational decision making but instead revolved around their emotions. When industries advertised with the message "Tobacco kills," they understood that they made it more appealing to the youth (Woolston, 2012). The message became alluring because of the deadly qualities since it builds on the fact that the youth will most likely do the opposite of what you ask them to do. In addition to this, teenagers were against the social marketing, and anti-tobacco efforts that judged tobacco users and this led to them being intrigued. To effectively handle the situation, Truth decided to provide details on how tobacco companies operated and how tobacco was made.
Design and Implementation
The truth was designed to highlight the toll of tobacco using relevant and newly innovated ways each year. The campaign objectives were to change the attitude of teens towards tobacco, reducing the availability of its products and second-hand smoke exposure. The directors decided to relate to teens who sought elevated sensations and avoid condemning smokers. Instead, they directed the rebellion towards the tobacco industry by exposing the industry's lies and build a strong counter-market brand. The initiative promoted peer to peer communication to reduce the barrier and prevent them from thinking that they were being talked down to.
Furthermore, the directors decided to forge partnerships with the government and other corporations like television stations to spread the messages of the truth campaign (Xu et al., 2015). These alliances were used to develop and implement a detailed communication plan to dispatch important information to any state needed to generate local interest and support. The directors also saw the need for creating a counter brand which highlighted the marketing actions of the tobacco industry. This included not only the materials used in making a cigarette, its contents and their health effects but also the failure of industries to be truthful about the addictive impacts of cigarettes. All these marketing ideas were to include teenagers in every phase of the development to add legitimacy and youthful style. It consequently empowered the teen movement.
Implementation of these strategies was done through creating a website, events with youth-driven advertising and grassroots outreach of tours in the summer and autumn (Xu et al., 2015) Advertisements were run during the most viewed shows and programs by the youth like the Super Bowl. These advertisements featured teenagers and props that the youth could relate to in their everyday life. They also included activities like jumping out of a plane to pique their interests. With the launch of the Outbreak Tour which was done in six weeks, toured 27 markets with video monitors, games and DJ turntables. They created a unique zone which allowed teenagers to congregate and talk naturally and freely. The tour staff included public figures that were popular who later became the ambassadors. They were trendsetters whose interests were skateboarding, rapping, fashion design and other music types. One of the most famous campaigns featured a singing cowboy who relied on an electronic voice box to sing due to laryngectomy. He would explain that his addiction led to the condition and warned the youth about smoking in their earlier years.
Woolston, C. 2012. Teen Crusaders: What does it take to keep kids from smoking. These youngsters may have the answer. Health Library Articles. Accessed March 2011.
Xu, X., Alexander Jr, R. L., Simpson, S. A., Goates, S., Nonnemaker, J. M., Davis, K. C., & McAfee, T. (2015). A cost-effectiveness analysis of the first federally funded anti-smoking campaign. American journal of preventive medicine, 48(3), 318-325.
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