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Data is at the epicenter of marketing today and can be used in various ways, from helping to sell a product or an idea, to influencing social change. Data can even save lives, as evidenced by truth® — one of the largest and most successful youth tobacco prevention campaigns, run by the nonprofit organization Truth Initiative®.

Over the life of truth, the campaign has told the truth about Big Tobacco by providing young people with the facts and exposing industry tactics, and doing so in a way that is highly engaging — including using humor, pop culture references, and media platforms that feel authentic to its audiences. From commercials to online quizzes, truth uses creative content to share its message and engage young people in the mission of being the generation to end smoking, and data helps do that.

With data from Acxiom, a technology and services company, combined with analytics from MRI-Simmons, which offers media research data, the marketers behind truth can understand what consumers like, provide personalized experiences and share impactful facts in the most successful way to save lives.

Creating the right content for the right people

Using data to know the needs and wants of consumers helps truth apply real-time message optimization to use the best performing facts and creative that makes people more eager to get involved. When young people engage with the truth campaign, that can drive positive behavior change.  

For example, amid the youth e-cigarette epidemic declared by the U.S. surgeon general, truth recognized that the e-cigarette knowledge gap is huge, and, among young people, there is a lot of confusion around the devices. In fact, a 2018 Truth Initiative study revealed that 63 percent of JUUL users did not know that the product always contains nicotine.1

Data helped truth quickly respond to the epidemic and launch its first e-cigarette effort “Safer ≠ Safe,” to help clear up misperceptions and give young people the facts about e-cigarettes — including that, according to JUUL, one standard JUUL pod delivers the amount of nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. When truth shares the right facts and gets them in front of the right people, people are encouraged to join the movement and take positive action.

Extending reach and making an impact

Specific data and analytic insights help truth find a way to reach all its audience groups across different channels, customize messages to each group and dial up the campaign’s reach to include young people who already know and love truth, people who need help and are hard to reach and more.

Statistics show that using data to extend reach works: “Safer ≠ Safe” has been one of the more successful efforts from truth to date, generating more than 1.3 million visits to thetruth.com and over 200,000 web interactions with its fact-based activities to learn more about the risks of e-cigarettes.

When truth reaches the right people, it makes an impact. Collaborating with top-quality data and technology partners like Acxiom and MRI-Simmons has also helped the campaign get the most out of data and use it in responsible and ethical ways to save lives. From 2015 to 2018, the truth campaign alone has been responsible for preventing more than 2.5 million young people from smoking. Over the life of the campaign, that impact has been multiplied many times over.

Jeff Somers, [email protected]


1. https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/28/1/115

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