Ever-Evolving truth® Campaign Celebrates Tenth Year of Saving Lives

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2010 marks the ten-year anniversary of the country’s most successful youth smoking prevention campaign -- truth®. In the past decade, the truth® campaign has kept hundreds of thousands of teens from smoking, protecting them from years of addiction and tobacco-related disease and saving countless lives.

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Looking back over the accomplishments of the truth® campaign in the last decade reveals a host of milestones in the fight for a healthier America, by reducing the impact of tobacco on our teens.

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2010 marks the ten-year anniversary of the country’s most successful youth smoking prevention campaign -- truth®. In the past decade, the truth® campaign has kept hundreds of thousands of teens from smoking, protecting them from years of addiction and tobacco-related disease and saving countless lives.

The campaign is directed and funded by Legacy, a national public health foundation with the dual mission of keeping young people from smoking and helping all smokers quit. Over the past decade, the campaign has:

  • Seen a growing body of research illustrate the efficacy of the campaign in saving lives by keeping teens from starting to smoke. Research published in the April 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that truth® is responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke between 2000-2004. A second study published in that same journal in April 2009 found that the campaign not only paid for itself in its first two years, but also saved between $1.9 and $5.4 billion in medical care costs to society.
  • Become a summer concert institution through a grassroots tour. Traveling with the VANS Warped Tour for ten summers, truth® brand ambassadors have connected personally with more than five million teens with anti-tobacco messages.
  • Successfully prevailed in the court of law after a nearly six-year lawsuit with a tobacco company regarding the content of select truth® advertisements.
  • Produced groundbreaking and highly-lauded advertising, winning more than 400 awards, including Emmys, ADDYs, Clios and a Grand Effie.

”Looking back over the accomplishments of the truth® campaign in the last decade reveals a host of milestones in the fight for a healthier America, by reducing the impact of tobacco on our teens,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. “truth® has become an iconic part of teen popular culture by not compromising on the idea that teens appreciate being asked to make their own, informed decisions and not being told what to do. Of course, the way in which truth® presents information has been, and will continue to be provocative because that is what teens most at risk of smoking respond to best.”

The campaign was born out of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between three of the largest tobacco companies, and 46 states and five U.S territories. Funds from the MSA were directed to create a national public health organization devoted to helping adults who want to quit and keeping teens from starting. Foundation leaders, partners and an expert panel funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked to the latest social science, marketing and public health research - along with the State of Florida’s successful truth® youth smoking campaign -- to expand the truth® campaign and bring it to a national audience.

“With truth®, we knew that preaching to kids about not smoking wouldn’t work,” said Pete Favat, Chief Creative Officer at Arnold Worldwide, Legacy’s advertising partner. “So we wanted to do something different. We set out to harness teenage rebellion and make an intangible thing like ‘anti-smoking’ into a tangible brand. To have youth communicate to other youth about the real, unfiltered facts involving cigarettes and the manipulative tobacco industry. Then kids could make up their own minds about smoking. It’s been a lot of work and a great partnership over the years and it’s been exciting to see how the campaign has evolved. But most importantly we’re so proud of the way truth® has been able to impact teenager’s lives in such a positive and meaningful way.”

truth® is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking - allowing teens to make informed choices about tobacco use by giving them the facts about the industry and its products. It is designed to engage teens by exposing Big Tobacco’s marketing and manufacturing practices, as well as highlighting the toll of tobacco in relevant and innovative ways.

truth® remains a multi-channel, constantly evolving campaign. From its beginnings in iconic television ads, the campaign has also included radio, print and cinema advertising. Over the decade, the campaign has had an increasingly comprehensive online presence, and an experiential presence via a popular summer tour. All efforts are focused directly to teens that are most likely to smoke and need information most.

In its ten years, truth® has had 3 distinct phases, as the campaign’s audience has “migrated”, and outreach efforts reflect that:

  • traditional advertising: TV spots, truth® ads in print publications popular with teens, and radio.
  • traditional advertising to online: In response, the campaign boosted its interactive presence, built social networking profiles, and continues to grow and build a robust Web site with polls, games, interactive activities, video, etc
  • online to experiential – Responding to an audience that is creating its own content and looking for further engagement with brands and campaigns, the truth® tour will take on an even more central role in the years to come, and the truth® “experience” will be enhanced further through engaging content and integrations.

While campaign funds have been in decline since 2003, Legacy has evolved the campaign to extend the truth® message in even more efficient and cost-effective ways. Partnerships with like-minded brands, such as MTV, Virgin Mobile, fuse and fuel extended the campaign’s reach and provided value-added opportunities. Grant funding from such partners as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowed the campaign to grow its presence in many smaller and rural communities throughout the nation. In addition, campaign managers constantly assess the media channels used by the campaign and its creative approach to make sure truth® continues to hit teens with relevant messages in relevant mediums.

While ten years ago much of truth®’s efforts were focused around traditional advertising, with iconic TV spots like Body Bags putting truth® on the map and highly-visible with teens, significant changes in media tools and consumption with the teen audience over the last decade has driven routine shifts in strategy to embrace other marketing tools. To meet these challenges, truth® continues to look beyond traditional means and the 30-second spot.

“With the campaign now facing a funding cliff and the tobacco industry spending approximately $34 million per day on marketing, truth® will continue to work hard to reach teens and help them make informed decisions about tobacco use,” said Dr. Benjamin Chu, chairman of the Legacy Board of Directors. “As we enter the next decade, the landscape around youth marketing continues to shift, presenting both opportunities and challenges. Digital media will continue to be the driving force for engagement with teens, message distribution, and for fundraising with audiences beyond the core audience. The truth® campaign has recognized these trends and will continue to embrace new methods of youth engagement."

To learn more about highlights from the last ten years of truth®, please visit: http://www.legacyforhealth.org/truthnews.aspx.
To learn more about truth visit http://www.thetruth.com and http://www.youtube.com/truthorange.

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Trish O'Callaghan
truth®
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