Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using mass media campaigns to encourage people to quit smoking. Research has shown a relationship between promoting cessation services and service volumes. To our knowledge, cessation services have not previously used a long-form infomercial as a component of a mass media campaign.
Program background: ClearWay Minnesota uses mass media campaigns to motivate people to use our cessation programs, called QUITPLAN Services. After launching a new and redesigned QUITPLAN Services in March 2014, ClearWay Minnesota used a comprehensive media campaign to engage tobacco users including broadcast, online and out of home media to reach the targeted audience. In addition to the traditional marketing, ClearWay Minnesota was interested in piloting an innovative marketing program with a QUITPLAN Services infomercial that would run in two markets for four weeks. According to market research, smokers index high for overnight television and infomercial viewership. ClearWay Minnesota created a 30-minute QUITPLAN Services infomercial to create awareness, increase volumes and take advantage of an opportunity to address key questions tobacco users might have about QUITPLAN Services that would not be feasible in a :30 second television spot.
Evaluation Methods and Results: Quantitative evaluation is ongoing and includes looking at calls and web visits during the four-week flight of the infomercial against two control weeks of very little marketing activity that happened at each end of the flight. The key variables will be the number of inbound calls to QUITPLAN Services, website visits to quitplan.com, and registrations for QUITPLAN Services programs. Qualitative testing will begin May 6 to evaluate effectiveness and determine if there are edits that could be made to increase response. The qualitative analysis will include three focus groups of tobacco users who have not seen the infomercial previously and recording their reactions. Qualitative findings will help determine which content resonates best and should be used in shorter edits or featured on quitplan.com.
Conclusions: While full evaluation is ongoing, the initial feedback and volumes have been positive. QUITPLAN Services volumes, especially call volumes, remained higher during weeks the infomercial was running compared to our control weeks. The media buy for the infomercial is less expensive than a traditional television ad campaign, but still impacts the volumes to QUITPLAN Services. Full quantitative and qualitative evaluation results will be ready prior to the conference presentation.
Implications for research and/or practice: A long-form infomercial provides a cessation service with an opportunity to reach tobacco users during a time when many of them are already watching television, at a reduced cost for media buying. It also provides the unique opportunity to discuss in-depth information and answer questions about the service that would not be possible with a traditional media campaign. In addition to the infomercial, ClearWay Minnesota now possesses extra footage, testimonials, phone coach interviews and doctor interviews that have applications for other media, the quitplan.com website, and can be used to create a new 30-second second television spot.