Background: In 2015, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) was concluding a media campaign related to secondhand smoke exposure in the state. While smoking rates were reaching historic lows (but still well above the national average), we knew that tobacco still represented a significant danger in the state. TSET needed a media campaign to highlight this issue, without the cost of creating a brand new campaign. TSET used the CDC’s MCRC to identify the “Still a Problem” campaign, originally produced by Clearway Minnesota. The campaign used a statistic-based approach and and was easily adaptable to Oklahoma’s needs.
Program background: TSET identified this campaign due to its emphasis on the ongoing dangers of tobacco at a state level, our key focus of marketing efforts for the year. After acquiring the campaign creative – including TV, outdoor, print and web assets – TSET swapped Oklahoma information for Minnesota’s, an easy and cost-effective solution. After a year of use, we decided we wanted to continue the approach but avoid audience burnout. Minnesota had provided many topic areas in the overall campaign – including youth, nonsmokers, economy and more. They used large figures to convey the overwhelming impact of tobacco in their state. While this approach was successful in the first year, how could we cost effectively extend this message while avoiding campaign burnout?
Evaluation Methods and Results: To find areas of improvement, we first sought to find what areas our audience cared most about. By A/B testing various messages across social media channels, we established a list of topics that weren’t heavily covered in the first year, but that struck a nerve with our audience. In addition, we searched for best practices in health communication that could guide our efforts. The CDC Clear Communication Index provided resources in how to adapt existing messages to better resonate with the audience.
Conclusions: For a younger, casual-smoker audience, the campaign identified that all forms of tobacco – whether cigarettes, secondhand smoke, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or hookah – is dangerous. These forms of tobacco were identified through social media research, which allowed us to accurately predict that the campaign would be successful. For an older audience that had children who might be starting to use tobacco, the campaign focused on key youth-related tobacco statistics that helped the user easily understand the real impact of tobacco on the state. By changing large numbers (“2,400 Oklahoma kids become addicted each year)” to relatable figures (“A busload of Oklahoma kids become addicted to tobacco each week”), we increased the impact of our messages and the effectiveness of our campaign. This approach allowed us to stretch our marketing dollars further, since our messages had higher ROI and we could use a variation of the existing campaign for additional fiscal years.
Implications for research and/or practice: Utilizing existing campaigns for your state’s use and then evolving that media campaign for long-term use can be cost effective.