A discussion on the Truth campaign

Posted by in Advertising, Communication, Communications, Derivations, Public Relations

  1. Then, discuss The Truth (http://www.thetruth.com) campaign in terms of what should have been done at each step in the campaign planning process (situation analysis, research, etc.—all the steps that you had to do for your Campaigns proposal for Dr. Guerra).
  1.                I.         Situation Analysis (SWOT): The American Legacy Foundation who runs the campaign was founded under the terms of the Master settlement agreement between the US tobacco companies and 46 states and 5 territories. Their position is rather unique as funding directly came from the tobacco companies. Furthermore, key areas as their position legally; legal obligations and requirements should be detailed in this part of the analysis. The campaign organizers should have undergone an SWOT analysis of the situation taking into account the four key areas as they apply internally and externally with regards to the tobacco industry. In the SWOT any directives like time frames, length of funding or areas of threat to funding loss should be identified.

Consideration to have been made under the SWOT also include; potential litigation due to advertising, biases introduced through marketing, budget allocations for additional areas of focus, position in market, non-profit standing, legal protections, statutory limitations and relationship with general public. There is also a need to evaluate the long-term commitment to the campaign and whether the target audience would be followed with supportive or supplemental outreach to ensure that attitude changes continued or were adopted for long terms. The campaign should include supplemental advertisement to reinforce the message to the audience once outside the initial target phase.

  1.              II.         Campaign Goals and Objectives – The organization here should have looked at the long terms goals as established through the settlement and the reasons for the creation of the fund, organization and need to do outreach. The goals as set by the initial campaign are:
    1. To change beliefs and attitudes towards tobacco companies i.e. they lie, cigarettes cause disease, and that Not smoking is a way to express independence
    2. Influence the intention to smoke
    3. Reduce smoking commonness

Note that there is no specific objectives listed which is a limitation of the ability to measure success during evaluation. The goals presented have been reviewed and evaluated; however as the campaign is on going and open-ended these goals are ultimately never met as tobacco still sells and is turning profits. Also, goals should ha

  1.            III.         Research – The research phase for the truth campaign is rather tricky as its primary goals outside of the campaign and more strictly aligned with the settlement are to counter the advertisement and propagation of incorrect information by the tobacco industry so the area to investigate was to be related to the demographics targeted by the industry as well as the part of the population that was most at risk.

Persuasive tactics, prevalent and successful advertisement for the focus population should have been consulted, experts in marketing information and attitude change messages should have been consulted to identity the best framework for message creation and visual stimulation. Research should have also focused on the type of information that needed to be addressed and corrected as disseminated by the tobacco industry. The campaign structure in its existence today is about telling the truth behind the industry, myth busting, shocking statistics and identifying the unethical practices used to market tobacco to minorities, children and segments of the population who are at a higher risk for addiction and health related complication to the products. A methodology for the research and survey of publics should be thoroughly documented as part of the process to ensure that the data collected is accurate and be available as reference. As part of the campaign preparation all finding should be collected and reported so that they can be integrated into the marketing of the campaign.

  1. Strategies – As identified in the truth campaign are:
    1.                                                         i.     Expose lies of tobacco companies/industry
    2.                                                       ii.     Direct teens to rebel at tobacco industry
    3.                                                      iii.     Do not condemn smokers
    4.                                                      iv.     Relate to impressionable teens
  2.            IV.         Target Audience – Created as a teen brand, a tool of self-expression. Ages targeted are 12-17 and as a secondary audience young adults. The audience segment that is targeted is identified and profiled during the campaign research phase and in this step a profile is put together to ensure that material created is specific to the target population. The demographic and psychographic profile would provide details on the types of people, attitudes and the lifestyles that messages have to connect with.
  3.              V.         Budget – When establishing the budget the American Legacy Foundation needed to have established if the available budget is for the life of the campaign, per year, quarter or for a specific time. Also, if the campaign lifeline is unknown contingencies to budget planning should have been established. Other areas to have paid attention to are if the settlement stipulated a specific amount to be directed at the campaign/advertisement. Also, if campaign budget should have been allocated for supplemental areas of message reinforcement should have been factored into the campaign budget. The budget should account for all cost, time, in-kind donations, manpower, supplies, media buys and campaign related expenses.
  4.            VI.         Marketing/Message Strategy – This step of the process in the truth campaign would have reflected on the research and audience profiling in order to create a marketing and message strategy that was reflective of the findings. If the research indicated that the population being targeted were teens that have a need to rebel and are sensation-seeking then the advertisement and messages should not only be experiential but also address their sensation seeking needs. The campaign so far has used shocking statistics, sarcasm, dark humor, controversy and satirical approaches to relay information, which are congruent with what the target population identify and are impacted by. The communication plans for the overall campaign should also align with the objectives and marketing, creative strategy enacted. All information that is being released to the media and events planned should be on par with what the target audiences are being reach with. The campaign development should have addressed the need to provide supplemental and reinforcing advertisement to adults who were part of the first targeted base in the early 2000’s. The campaign unfortunately has not made an effort to re-enforce its message or to reach out to people who already smoke.

All creative material such as television ads, radio spots, website, print advertisement, events and camps would be identified and created during this portion of the campaign preparation process.

  1.          VII.         Timeline – The ALF would have looked at the requirements by the settlement and the goals and objectives set earlier to determine the length of the campaign and the lifeline. Currently the campaign has been on going since 2000 and is still running. Over the period of ten years it has been re-invigorated and refreshed to keep up with the times and the target audience’s psychographics. All material corresponding to the campaign should be outlined with dates and times references in this portion. For example the summer and winter camps would be listed with the start and end dates. Corresponding to those entries there would also be times for preparation, planning and evaluation of those specific items.
  2.        VIII.         Evaluation – The evaluation process would be done at the agreed interval or timeframe. The truth campaign should have made plans to test and evaluate the campaign at the 6-month and 12-month marks to determine changes in the response to the message by the population. Studies due to evaluate message reach, effectiveness, recognition and attitude change have been done at 2-5 year intervals providing only a glimpse of actual changes in the message interaction. The evaluation process serves to gauge if the campaign is working or if it needs to be re-addressed to be successful. The below are finding of some of the evaluations of the campaign:
    1. After the campaign launch an increase in the decline of smoking was reflected from 3.2%, between 1997-1998, to 6.8%, between 2000-2002.
    2. 75% of youth (ages 12-17) in the United States could accurately describe at least on truth ad.
    3. A positive effect was shows in the targeted beliefs and attitudes in the first year of the campaign.
    4. 66% of youth confirmed they were more likely to say they would not smoke in the coming year.


3. Analyze the positive and negative aspects of this particular campaign using examples of ads/PR/communications that are available on the web—how could it have been improved?

It is my opinion that the overall campaign needs to be refocused to address other age ranges or segmented for various populations. The short-term effects have been reported and message recognition is important but there are no numbers to indicate if there is a long-term effect. However, due to the amount of advertisement and message pulsing there are statistics that show that the effects of the campaign are curvilinear and do hit a threshold where the effects start going in the opposite of the desired effect.

Furthermore, the campaign should do more to reinforce messages and persuasion as opposed to starting with the same age groups every 5 years. The campaign has been refreshed to be aligned with the new set of 12-17 year olds. Also, the campaign does not attempt to stop individuals whom are already smoking and hinges on simply making people realize that the tobacco company has lied and may still be lying, this is not sufficient to stop individuals from smoking. We can better appreciate this if we consider campaigns such as the DARE campaign against drugs and its large failure to meet goals.

Advertisement samples:

Strap Line:  In 1993, the Supreme Court decided that an inmate could sue a prison claiming that exposure to his cellmate’s second hand smoke could constitute cruel and unusual punishment.


This advertisement aside from providing a truth associated with tobacco falls out of line of the initial goals of the campaign. The tagline does not touch on lies of the industry, does not align with the demographic and the visual imagery is more confusing than shocking.



Strap Line: Tobacco kills more Americans than auto accidents, homicide, AIDS, drugs and fires combined.


The advertisement tagline fits the model used in the campaign and the goals set. However, visually although strong and impacting can actually create psycho-emotional dissonance leading viewers to turn away or ignore. Also, this type of imagery typically does not work on younger audiences because they believe that these types of accidents or situation do not happen to them. Most youth are not accepting or cognant of potential threats or dangers to them. The advertisement fails to fulfill its intent.


Strap Line: In 1995 a major tobacco company planned to boost cigarette sales by targeting homeless people. They called their plan “Project SCUM: Sub Culture Urban Marketing.


This ad serves all the intended strategies and goals as set by the campaign. However, it opens the questions of how many individuals in the primary demo of 12-17 are socially aware and socially responsible. Does a teenager care about the homeless? Does a teen care of social injustices?

The advertisement fails to connect in my opinion on the emotional and personal level, as the majority within the demo is not concerned with this. The change in the campaign message and visuals can later be seen by the campaign focusing on how smoking causes bad breath, stained teeth, smell, skin discoloring, wrinkles and other effects to how a young person will look. By focusing on the image and attractiveness of the audience later ads have been more able to connect with the age group targeted.