Smoking. Stars like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe made it cool. Now, "The Truth” campaign is crusading to unwind the sexy stigmatism attached with the cancer causing habit. How can a campaign effectively discourage the use of cigarettes—something in which 21% of people in America daily take part? By using social media.
Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, and Youtube: These are a few of the sites that host Truth Orange, the 58.9 million dollar anti-cigarette campaign to extinguish smoking. You’ve certainly seen the quirky, interesting TV shorts that question “Big Tobacco” companies, share disturbing facts about birth defects in babies whose mother’s smoke, and pile body bags on the streets of New York City to represent the number of folks who die from smoking-related deaths each day.
THE SUNNY SIDE OF TRUTH: REMIX
In 2006, “The Truth” ads expanded from documentary-style TV commercials to include social media, using the slang term and web address ‘whudafxup.’ Another recent campaign for “The Truth” features “The Sunny Side of Truth Remix Project,” which brings together music artists like Diplo, Mix Master Mike, Z-trip, Pete Rock, and DJ Sega to remix songs from the Sunny Side of Truth. The songs can be downloaded on the campaign’s webpage, along with wallpapers, posters, and buddy icons.
“The Truth” is using music—sharing and shows—to help spread their anti-smoking message. In 2009, “The Truth” hooked up with the music site Imeem and offered tickets to a free show, entered readers in a contest to interview bands or win a free Flip phone, and streamed the concert live. The page also let fans create and share “The Truth” playlists, videos, and messages.
All 1,000 concert tickets were delivered via text message to fans who called to RSVP, and during the concert texts were displayed on a jumbotron via the text-to-screen tool provided by Mozes, a mobile marketing platform.
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
The mainstay (and most interesting component) of “The Truth” campaign is still the documentary style video shorts. Their latest angle, “Do you have what it takes to be a tobacco executive?” has racked up dozens of minute-long clips that are plastered over Myspace, YouTube, and the campaign’s homepage. With upwards of 30,000 views, the Youtube channel dedicated to Truth Orange features ads for apparel, music, “Truth on Tour,” and “Do you have what it takes…” segments.
While friends on Facebook share photos of family member’s smoking-related diseases, the ad’s homepage lets viewers get involved through games like Addictor Click, Urea Collector (“Urea is found in tobacco. It’s also found in cat pee—yum”), and Truth Pet (“the more friends you get, the bigger your stache grows”).
With 45,885 friends on Myspace and 4,177 fans on Facebook, there’s no question that audiences are being reached and “The Truth” voice is being heard. But through all of this social media, how effective is their campaign?
In a Fox News article called “’Truth’ Ads Help Cut Youth Smoking,” Joseph A. Califano Jr., President Carter’s health secretary and chairman of Citizens’ Commission to Protect the Truth, said, “These truth campaign ads are the MTV of the public health world. They really get to these kids.” ProtectTheTruth.org offers a few compelling statistics:
• Seventy-five percent of all 12 to 17 year-olds in the nation (21 million) can accurately describe one or more of the truth® ads.
• Nearly 90 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 (25 million) said the ad they saw was convincing.
• Eighty-five percent (24 million) said the ad gave them good reasons not to smoke.
The verdict? “The Truth” is plastered across the web, utilizing social media to effectively spread its message and reach its target audience of teens. These stats make me wonder, what other messages should we be pumping through the same methods of media?