Florida "truth" Campaign
The Florida TRUTH anti-smoking campaign built a new product and branded it. The product/action was being cool by attacking adults who want to manipulate teens to smoke. The campaign reduced the price of the behavior (attacking adults) by selecting adults everyone agreed had been manipulating them. They created places where kids were found by means of a statewide train caravan and the founding of local "Truth chapters." And, of course, they used promotion - but promotion that went beyond the traditional media ads to having kids directly confront the tobacco industry and publicize this teen "terrorism" in the popular media. The Campaign routinely carried out surveys of its target audience that allowed the campaign to discover important micro-market segments (south Florida Hispanics) where impacts were lagging. The Truth campaign has been a dramatic success; it is now the model for the Legacy Foundation's national anti-smoking campaign. In just two years, from 1998 to 2000, the percent of Florida middle schoolers who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days fell from 18.5 to 8.6 percent while the percentage for high schoolers went from 27.4 to 20.9. These market share gains would be the envy of ANY private sector marketer.
The "truth" campaign incorporates research and evaluation throughout its marketing plan to ensure that program goals are meeting their objectives and to systematically improve marketing efforts. During the course of the campaign's first year several independent surveys were administered to collect baseline data and make incremental program evaluations. Program monitoring was also used to measure the effectiveness of the Florida Tobacco Pilot Program's (FTPP) contracted marketing agencies, whose financial incentives were directly linked to the achievement of certain performance benchmarks. These campaign evaluations indicated the following results.
Increased brand awareness: In September of 1998 the Florida Anti-Tobacco Media Evaluation (FAME) was conducted through a comprehensive telephone survey testing the confirmed awareness of the campaign and its paid media advertisements among Florida teens ages 12-17. The initial goal for the program was to achieve a confirmed level of awareness of 85 percent by the time the test was conducted. Results of the survey showed that the "truth" program, only five months into its marketing campaign, had surpassed its goal and achieved a brand awareness of 92 percent. The FAME survey also tested changes in attitude among the campaign's target audience and found that the percentage of teens agreeing with certain negative statements about smoking had risen by fifteen percent since baseline data was gathered the previous April. Successive FAME surveys have shown that campaign awareness and evidence of changing attitude among Florida youth are following an increasing trend.
Increased behavior and attitude change: More recent FAME results indicate that the "truth" campaign was instrumental in preventing teens from starting to smoke cigarettes. Follow-up surveys show that non-smoking teens that refrained from smoking through the duration of the campaign were 2.3 times more likely to say they had been influenced by the campaign's message that tobacco companies were trying to manipulate them. In addition, the campaign was successful in attracting more than 10,000 middle and high school teens to join and participate in the pilot program's youth advocacy organization SWAT.
Decrease in teen smokers: According to the second Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) conducted in February 1999, over the course of one calendar year between 1998 and 1999, the number of middle and high school teens defined as "current smokers" declined by 19.4 percent and 8.0 percent respectively. Twenty-nine thousand Florida teens made the decision to not smoke during that time period, ten thousand of whom would likely have continued smoking and died early as a result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that this decrease represented "the largest annual reported decline observed in this nation since 1980."
The "truth" Campaign
On August 25, 1997, the State of Florida won a landmark victory against the Tobacco Industry worth $11.3 billion over twenty-five years (increased to $13 billion a year later). In addition to a number of other concessions, the settlement included a clause providing an earmarked budget of $200 million for a state-run pilot program to fight youth tobacco use. Operating out of the State's Office of Tobacco Control, the newly formed Florida Tobacco Pilot Program (FTPP), known better by its marketing component "truth," achieved significant results in its first year and continues to serve as the state's primary prevention program, and as a model to other social marketing campaigns.
As the FTPP was beginning to take shape in the fall of 1997, tobacco use among high school students had reached more than 36 percent nationwide, an increase of one-third since 1991. Research findings that same year showed that 70.2 percent of high school teens had tried smoking and that 35.8 percent of that group would continue smoking on a daily basis. Surveys also indicated that 86 percent of teen smokers routinely purchased one of the three most advertised tobacco brands.
A comprehensive review of previous anti-tobacco campaigns by the FTPP confirmed the presumption that past prevention strategies were ineffective and outdated. Teens were already well-acquainted with the negative effects of tobacco use and didn't consider smoking a significant issue in the context of their lives. Furthermore, research showed that despite their knowledge and awareness, teens still saw smoking as rebellious and self-identifying.
The FTPP approached the anti-tobacco campaign with the knowledge that in order to reach teens they would ultimately have to drive a wedge between the tobacco industry's advertising and their target audience. The program's managers initiated this strategy by assembling a team of advertising and public relations firms to develop the marketing portion of the campaign, and by going directly to Florida's youth themselves and listening to their attitudes and opinions. After a short time, the program emerged with the concept of a youth movement against Big Tobacco promoted through grassroots advocacy and a creative, youth-driven advertising campaign.
Make Anti-smoking Advocacy Cool
At the Teen Tobacco Summit in March of 1998, the teen delegates, invigorated by what they had learned about the tobacco industry's false statements and manipulation, voted to change the campaign's theme to "Truth, a generation united against tobacco." The new "truth" campaign also included the formation of a new youth anti-tobacco advocacy group called SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco).
Target Credibility Through Teen Action
The FTPP and its marketing team established a plan to give the "truth" campaign message maximum reach and visibility through a wide range of multi-media ads, teen events, merchandising, and media outreach. The marketing plan also included using teen input in every phase of the development to add style and legitimacy and to empower the teen movement. With these efforts, they hoped to make the "truth" into a credible brand name easily recognized by the campaign's target audience.
In April of 1998, the FTPP launched a $25 million dollar advertising campaign that ultimately included 33 television commercials, seven billboards, eight print ads and four posters. Taking the same approach as commercial marketers do to engage teens, the "truth" campaign incorporated a variety of in-your-face styles into its ads using everything from edgy-humor to high technology. The ads also depicted real teenagers taking on the tobacco industry at the Teen Tobacco Summit and statewide SWAT functions.
Initially, because of a clause in the state's settlement, the campaign was restricted from directly attacking the tobacco industry. This challenge was overcome by focusing the campaign on the supporters of tobacco in the advertising and publishing industries, a tactic that received considerable attention in the national media and inspired other prevention programs. The "truth" campaign had repositioned tobacco control as a hip, rebellious youth movement with the message that tobacco use is an addictive drug marketed by a callous adult-establishment. (The restriction was later lifted following the Texas settlement.)
Support "truth" Coolness
Putting equal emphasis on its advocacy campaign, the marketing team designed "truth"-branded merchandise, such as T-shirts and baseball caps, and distributed it via an official campaign van at teen functions throughout the state. Other grassroots promotional efforts included "truth"-sponsored teen events and development of an FTPP website containing facts and statistics on tobacco, SWAT information, and online advocacy activities.
Events Pump-up the Program
In August 1998 the FTPP launched the Reel "truth," a program designed to expose how the tobacco industry has permeated popular culture to manipulate society's attitude towards smoking, and to empower teens to combat it. The program included a number of conferences and seminars and ran in conjunction with the "truth" tour, which featured a 13-city train ride and concert series. Carried out by the marketing team through members of SWAT, the Reel "truth," with the help of celebrities and politicians, encouraged advocacy participation and petitioned the entertainment industry to portray smoking more accurately and denormalize its use.
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