Draftfcb taps Fleishman for $115m anti-tobacco effort

NEW YORK: Draftfcb and Fleishman-Hillard, the agency team behind the long-running "Above the Influence" campaign, are teaming up again to launch a tobacco-cessation outreach initiative targeting teenagers.

NEW YORK: Draftfcb and Fleishman-Hillard, the agency team behind the long-running “Above the Influence” campaign, are teaming up again to launch a tobacco-cessation outreach initiative targeting teenagers.

The firms will launch two campaigns on behalf of the US Food and Drug Administration that will focus on prevention, and another will aim to get teens who occasionally use tobacco to stop. Both will target youths ages 12 to 17.

Each day, nearly 3,500 US kids try their first cigarette, and nearly 1,000 teens who had previously tried smoking become regular smokers, according to the FDA.

Draftfcb is the primary account-holder, and Fleishman is serving as a subcontractor.

“We're keenly aware of the PR firm's prowess at creating efforts that change consumer behavior,” said Jeff Tarakajian, EVP of client services at Draftfcb, via email. “The agency has deep bench strength and a great understanding of the teen and youth demo.”

The FDA selected the advertising network as part of a roster of six firms it created last fall to be eligible for the planning and development of multichannel public health education campaigns.

The agency beat out firms such as Campbell-Ewald, which would work with sister Interpublic firm Weber Shandwick, for the two-year contract worth more than $115 million.

“Draftfcb demonstrated an expertise in creating a comprehensive multimedia campaign and a deep understanding of youth behavior related to tobacco use thus able to help us achieve our goals,” said Kathy Crosby, director of the Office of Health Communications and Education at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.

Crosby also cited Fleishman's involvement as another reason this agency team was selected.

“Probably something that set us apart is that our ideas were based on the overall plan, and it wasn't a scenario where the PR tactic was tagged on at the end,” said Maria Gallagher, a partner at Fleishman-Hillard. Fleishman's Social Impact group in DC will lead PR work on the effort, she said. The FDA expects the campaigns to kick off sometime this year.

Even though the media has been filled with anti-tobacco campaigns over the last decade, Crosby is confident the efforts will move the needle to slow youth tobacco use.

“We have a lot of kids who have come of age and just now are open to hearing these messages, ones that haven't had the benefit of seeing other efforts like the Truth campaign,” she said.

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