DC Influencer: Legacy CEO says the anti-smoking campaign is back to #FinishIt

Robin Koval, president and CEO, Legacy, says the Truth campaign is back with a call to action for the celebrity in all of us to #FinishIt.

Robin Koval
Robin Koval

Why reinvent the Truth campaign?
We wanted this to be our big bang to say Truth is back. Knowing how effective the campaign had been, the board had great confidence to say we can kick-start this again and accelerate the rate of decline in youth smoking.

Truth was launched in 2000 to a different generation. Generation X didn’t want to be joiners and were rebellious. Fast forward to 2014, and while they still value authenticity and don’t want to be controlled by outside forces – including the tobacco industry – this generation are joiners.

The #FinishIt campaign pivoted from calling out just the facts – when we first started, 23% of kids smoked, now 9% do – to saying this generation with its influence on social media can not only do its part not to smoke, but also can join together and help end this for good.

Why use images of celebrities smoking in the spots that aired during the MTV Video Music Awards?
This was an idea our creative agency 72andSunny brought to us. It is about exposing the power of big tobacco and helping young people to understand that even if you’re not being paid, when you put images out there – whether you’re a household name or not – you are helping further their influence. 

Seeing smoking in movies is attributable to 20% of youth smoking. The celebrities we showed in the ads are very well known to that audience and have a tremendous online following.

When someone posts a photo of them smoking, it has enormous impact. We also wanted to say to young people that everybody is a celebrity these days, and all of us have to think about what we put out there.

What results have you seen from the relaunch?
Using the revamped website, thetruth.com, we asked people to upload the Finish It "X" picture to their social media profile pictures to show support for our new campaign.

We had more than 1.6 million YouTube views and more than 20,500 users choose the image for their profile. We had a tenfold increase in traffic compared to an average month in the first few weeks.

We estimate earned media value was about $13 million, and 96% of the sentiment of the campaign was positive or neutral and only 4% negative.

We were covered in many top outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, TMZ, and Access Hollywood.  

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