Truth Campaign - Catherine Schum, M.A. Robert J. Gould,...

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Catherine Schum , M.A. Robert J. Gould , Ph.D. Carrie Schum is a senior vice president, Strategic Planning and Research at Porter Novelli D. Rob Gould is the Managing Director of Porter Novelli's Washington, DC office. They were both core members of the team that launched Florida "truth." Abstract The Florida "truth" anti-tobacco campaign was the first counter-marketing campaign funded with tobacco industry settlement money. Its strategy of undermining conventional attitudes about tobacco use, and showing how the tobacco industry purposely targeted teens, has been widely used by other tobacco prevention programs. This case study describes the strategic decisions that gave rise to the "truth" campaign, and speculates about why "truth" was so effective, with a particular focus on peer-to-peer communication. Background The Florida "truth" campaign is often held up as a model of effective social marketing. As the first-ever tobacco counter-marketing program executed with tobacco company money (as a result of the state's settlement with the tobacco industry in August 1997 ), the program received extensive media coverage and interest from the public health sector. And, most of all, it worked -- tobacco use among Florida middle and high school students declined markedly and rapidly. (Editor's note: Florida's settlement with the tobacco industry preceded the November 1998 multi-state settlement that led to the creation of the American Legacy Foundation, whose legal fight with Lorillard Tobacco over anti-tobacco advertising is profiled in this volume of the journal.) What isn't as well known is how the program came together, the strategic and operational decisions that made it work so well on the ground. Moreover, with the benefit of hindsight, we now have words to describe what we believe occurred in Florida from 1998 to 2000 - terms, like viral campaign and peer networking, that we see commonly today but that were unknown a decade ago. In many ways, the Florida "truth" campaign was the first horizontal influence campaign, where the horizontal - peer-to-peer - element was just as important as the vertical, top- down professional communications activities. Porter Novelli served as the public relations agency for the Florida "truth" campaign, executing local and national media relations programs, as well as overseeing youth activism activities and assisting the local grassroots activities of SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) chapters. Tobacco Use Among Florida Youth It is estimated that 90% of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, 1
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and that one-third of teens who smoke will die prematurely from a tobacco- related disease. 2 At the time the campaign launched (in March 1998), about 18% of Florida middle schoolers and 27.4% of high schoolers smoked. 3 Nationally, rates of cigarette use among teenagers had risen steadily between 1991 and 1997, from 27.5% in 1991 to 36.4% in 1997. 4 Role of Communications in Tobacco Prevention At the start of the campaign, the communications team conducted a brief
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This note was uploaded on 07/24/2009 for the course P R 305 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Truth Campaign - Catherine Schum, M.A. Robert J. Gould,...

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