truth: CASE STUDY
Ten years ago, the truth® campaign was created for teens as an antidote to Big Tobacco. Since then, truth has been battling Big Tobacco on the streets, on the airwaves and on the web, helping to bring teen smoking rates to historic lows. truth has saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the last decade. While we’re most proud of all the lives truth has saved, it’s also nice to be recognized by your peers for a job well done. So we were surprised, and excited, when Adweek’s readers recently voted truth the Campaign of the Decade.
Since 2000, we’ve been surrounding kids with the truth, arming them with facts and information that let them make up their own minds about smoking. The brand hasn’t changed much over time, but how we’ve put the message out there in a fully integrated manner sure has.
So scroll down for a sampling of 10 years of Great Work that Works. And hopefully you’ll like what you see.
In the beginning, a lot of folks thought we might have more luck convincing a bee not to sting or a fish not to swim.
And how could you blame them, because that was the scale of the task put before us when we started truth back in 2000. The task: convince teens not to smoke.
Before truth, kids were being told/ordered not to smoke by their parents, their teachers and the police (through the DARE program). Tobacco companies were also doing their part (ahem), through patronizing ad campaigns that told teens to “Think. Don’t Smoke.” Or that “Tobacco is whacko…if you’re a teen.” Yeesh.
celebrity smokercelebrity smoker
TEENS VS. BIG TOBACCO
The first thing we did was define the players.
Research told us that a lot of teens thought cigarettes were all-natural, rolled by tobacco farmers in barns. They’re plants, like vegetables, right?
Hardly. This had to be Us vs. Them. Teens vs. Big Tobacco. The Kids vs. The Man. The Cool vs. The Uncool.
From day one of truth, we focused not on the smoker but on the corporations selling the products that kill their customers. It’s hard to rebel against farmers but easy to stand up to corporate bottom-liners.
So that’s what we did. truth kids regularly (and famously) showed up on Big Tobacco’s doorsteps to confront them directly. We captured these stunts/demonstrations live and put them on TV. Teens had never seen anything like it.
SPREAD THE truth
The way we approach truth is less like an ad campaign and more like an underground social movement. We give teens facts and information so they can make their own decisions about whether to smoke or not. And if they decide they like what we’re saying, we give them the tools to go tell others. To spread truth.
IN THESE TV ADS, KIDS TAKE THE truth MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE.
Box of Poison
THESE PRINT ADS INCLUDE STICKERS
(on the right side) that are meant to be removed from the magazine and stuck in public places for others to get the message. It’s called interactive print.
KIDS HUNG THESE PRINT ADS ON THEIR WALLS AND IN THEIR LOCKERS.Adults were shocked, some were outraged. Kids loved them. Imagine that.
WEB 2.0 CATCHES UP WITH trutH. FINALLY.
We were “viral” before “viral” was a marketing buzzword. But when Web 2.0 came around, we were able to really amp up the viral nature of truth.
With each new campaign, we gave kids online tools and games to spread the word to their friends through social networks and online video. Here are a couple of examples.
Hairy-mail.com was tied to a similarly gross TV spot (kids like gross). Because sodium hydroxide, a caustic compound used in hair-removal products, is also found in tobacco smoke, we let kids send messages to their friends by removing the hair on a hirsute man’s back to create the words.
Tough Love 2 is a game we developed that’s tied to one of our TV spots. Kids love games, so we do too. After a kid plays any of our dozens of games, their scores are posted on their social networks, challenging their friends to beat them. Spreading the word about truth.
Big Tobacco spends more money every day on marketing and promotions than truth spends in a year. So our ads/tools/games have to be able to work overtime. When a kid passes our message along to her friends, we’ve effectively increased our reach and lowered our CPM.
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A TOBACCO EXEC?
With teens, it’s important to be fresh, interesting and culturally relevant. Our 2009 campaign used the biggest story of the year – the economy – to bring our message to life. Research told us that the economy, and particularly how it would affect their families, was heavy on kids’ minds. So our campaign asked real people, and teens, to really think about their principles.
Using hidden cameras, we interviewed real job seekers and asked them if they would consider working for Big Tobacco, an industry whose products kill their customers, even when used “properly.”
Behind The Scenes
ONLINE, WE BROUGHT THE INTERVIEW PROCESS TO THE KIDS.
When the interview was over, they could post their results on the social network of their choice – Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, etc.
Of course, teens spend a lot of time online, and this is our 27th version of the truth website. It could be argued that truth is more of a digital campaign than any other medium.
SURROUND TEENS WITH truth
All this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to reach teens, you’ve got to be where they are – and they’re all over the place. So we follow sports and music tours in a big orange truth truck, talking to kids one-on-one.
WE MAKE APPAREL AND GEAR. SOME TO GIVE AWAY AND SOME FOR SALE ONLINE.
WE WORK WITH TV NETWORKS TO INTEGRATE OUR BRAND INTO THEIR PROGRAMMING.
A full season of MTV’s “Real World,” ten two-minute episodes of MTV’s “MADE: I want to be a truth tour rider,” plus work with VH1, Fuse, FUEL and Si TV.
Music. Fashion. Sports. Entertainment. Always rebellious. Always fresh. Always culturally relevant. truth surrounds teens with our message.
So, are teens buying truth? Well, in a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, truth was credited with being directly responsible for 450,000 fewer youth smokers in 2004. This translates into 150,000 lives saved for that year and an eventual one billion dollars saved in health care and lost productivity costs in future years.
On top of that, since 2000, smoking rates among 10th graders have dropped from 14 percent to 5.9 percent. That’s a drop of nearly 60 percent. As of 2008, smoking rates among teens were at all-time lows.
All evidence that Great Work Works in helping to wage the battle against an industry responsible for America’s number one most preventable cause of death.