Legacy selects Ketchum as PR AOR to boost Truth anti-smoking campaign

Legacy, the public health foundation that directs and funds the Truth smoking-prevention campaign, has selected Ketchum as its PR AOR.

WASHINGTON: Legacy, the public health foundation that directs and funds the Truth smoking-prevention campaign, has selected Ketchum as its PR AOR.

Ketchum is tasked with amplifying Legacy’s Truth campaign by integrating traditional, digital, and social media efforts to drive down youth smoking rates, Legacy said in a statement. US Surgeon General Boris Lushniak warned in January that 5.6 million young people could die prematurely due to tobacco use. Legacy also works on adult smoking-cessation efforts.

The Omnicom Group firm will reach out to Truth’s core audience, teens and young people open to experimenting with tobacco, through national earned and paid media. The campaign has been running since 2000.

Legacy is planning a relaunch of the Truth brand this summer, with the group’s president and CEO, Robin Koval, calling it "our most significant investment in the Truth brand in more than 10 years."

"The world has changed so much since Truth was created, before Facebook and before social media became such a critical element to the way we communicate with young people," she said.

There was no incumbent PR firm on the account. Budget and other information about the contract were not released, though Koval said she expects the relationship to be long-term.

Four finalist agencies applied for the contract. Ketchum won because it impressed the group with its creativity and approach and because it would be able to work well with creative firm 72andSunny, she added.

"Ideally, we want to be a top-tier, top 10 youth brand, and to do that, we need a fully integrated strategy," Koval explained. "We see Ketchum playing an important role."

Boston-based consultancy Pile + Company handled the review.

In February, the organization named MDC Partners-owned 72andSunny as its creative shop, following its selection of WPP’s MediaCom as its media planning and buying firm late last year. The organization had previously worked with Havas’ Arnold Worldwide on creative and Omnicom’s PhD on media planning and buying.

When announcing the creative and media agency review last July, Legacy said it anticipated spending at levels consistent with the campaign’s earliest years, translating to an annual range of $50 million to $60 million in paid media. It did not break out planned PR or social media spending at that time.

The group relaunched the Truth campaign with the "ugly truth" initiative last spring, driving teenagers to social media with a range of TV spots. Legacy’s in-house team worked on earned media for that effort, while Arnold managed creative. It also handled all PR in-house for a 2011 push where it worked with clothing designer Jeff Staple to produce a limited-edition t-shirt.

As recently as 2009, The ad*itive served as PR AOR for the Truth effort. It worked with Michael Meyers Public Relations on a 2012 initiative where it launched a mobile game called "Flavor Monsters."

The fact that Legacy hired Ketchum as its first PR AOR in several years underscores the importance of the Truth relaunch, Koval added.

"It’s another point in how significant this relaunch of Truth is," she said. "We felt it was important to have all of the levers pulled."

Mike Doyle, Ketchum partner and director of the firm’s New York office, said in this case, the "pitch didn’t feel like work; it felt like a purpose."

"There is truly something unique about being part of not just great work but work that does good things," he said. "This is going to be a body of work that will be career-making for the many people at Ketchum that will be a part of it."

This story was updated at 2:15 pm on May 29 with quotes from Koval and Doyle.

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