Organization: Legacy (Washington)
Campaign: Butt Really? The Environmental Impact of Cigarettes
Duration: February-April 2011
Legacy sought to create buzz for a supplemental publication it helped fund, Tobacco Control. It contained research discussing the harsh environmental effects of cigarette-butt littering.
"Many people think cigarette butts are biodegradable, but they're toxic," says Julia Cartwright, Legacy's SVP of communications.
With publication date set for April 19 - three days before Earth Day - Legacy began efforts in February. "We tied PR to that research and used it as a news hook," says Cartwright.
North American Precis Syndicate created a short news release about cigarette butts breaking down into toxic waste. On April 1, Legacy made public a fake press release stating tobacco companies had taken responsibility "by removing filters from all cigarettes and subsidizing tobacco litter clean-up costs."
Drs. Cheryl Healton, Legacy CEO, and Thomas Novotny, a lead researcher and supplement author, interviewed on TV and radio stations across the US discussing research results. They joined a Legacy-hosted panel in Washington and visited Capitol Hill with the panelists.
ReelAid, which awards marketing tools to nonprofits, produced a video featuring Tony Hawk, musician Ziggy Marley, and comedian Andy Dick.
The media tour secured 900 airings in 104 markets. The multimedia press release earned coverage in outlets including CNN iReport and USAToday.com. The radio tour secured 163 airings, while more than 275 people attended the panel.
"We always look to attract attention to the issue," Cartwright says. Legacy will build on the effort's success in future pushes.