let’s #FinishIT together!

How to get the attention of audiences today in an increasingly media-saturated world? What makes a public health campaign memorable and effective? The answer is: a well produced video campaign or emotion-evoking photo ads can get you through to the hearts and minds of your target audience, as Heather Mansfield, author of Social Media for Social Good, encourages us.

Anti-smoking campaigns for youth successfully used this tactic by challenging youth with videos and images to evoke emotional response and positive change.

Let’s examine how these campaigns have sustained their vitality and vigorous battle in light of current social behavior and ways people communicate.   


  • significantly increased teens awareness about smoking and health consequences
  • prevented 450,000 teenagers from starting to smoke
  • 22 percent of the overall decline in youth smoking
  • 8 percent of teens still smoking, historic low!


1. The Truth Campaign launched in 2000

Existing research had shown that smoking was perceived by teens as image of rebellion and exhibit of power. Strategy was based on fact that teens respond best to “up-front and powerful messages that display courage and honesty in a forceful way”. Therefore, campaign media outreach empowered teens to make up their own minds about smoking and rebel against smoking.

Key messages and videos supported the truth about smoking and health impact, watch Tobacco kills 1200 people a day video.

2. CDC Campaign Tips From Former Smokers launched in 2012

This influential public health campaign created a video gallery of real people sharing their real stories about living with serious long-term health effects and disabilities due to smoking or second-hand exposure. In heartbreaking and dramatic way these videos are conveying a powerful message: “Quit smoking or don’t even start!”

3. FDA has launched The Real Cost Campaign in 2014

The campaign’s visuals demonstrate the effects of smoking on teens appearance and instill a little fear factor to warn teens about the real cost of smoking. Key message is “If cigarettes looked as dangerous as they are, you’d #RunLikeHell”.

Skin_Smoking Teeth_Smoking

4. Simultaneously, “truth” launched “Finish It campaign.

The message is simple: fun new ways to do what no generation has done before – end smoking for good. Join us and let’s #FinishIT together!
Modern research discovered that today’s teenagers are less interested in protesting against tobacco industry, and more interested in driving positive collective action. Finish It was developed to suit this generation’s desire to be agents of social change.

“All the best marketing research today shows that today’s young people are take-charge and want to be involved with the confidence that they can make a difference,” Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

New approach is authentic through a peer-to-peer social network communication. Everyone becomes a broadcaster for “FinishIT” message:

“Get on board and get your friends on board!”
“Sign Tobacco Free Campus Petition!”

These efforts are supported by shareable content on social media platforms:

Erase & Replace – removes cigarettes from photos on social media, and encourages teens and young people to use their own creativity and sense of fun to replace cigarette-related images with other images.”Smoking picture_ridiculous

Smoking pictures are ridiculous. Make them ridiculously awesome instead. #FinishIt

Popular Youtube video message:

Any reason is brilliant reason not to smoke, share yours!

Youtube The Real Cost Commercial: “#ReasonsNotToSmoke”

These inspiring examples show how to effectively use multimedia tools to empower your audience, tell your story, stimulate response, energize your public health campaign, motivate action and better engage public. Social media is your powerful engine to spark enthusiasm and promote your campaign through natural way people connect nowadays. Join us and let’s #FinishIT together!


  1. Farrelly MC, Nonnemaker J, Davis KC, Hussin A. The Influence of the National truth Campaign on Smoking Initiation. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2009; 36(5): 379-384.
  2. Truth Campaign. Research finding and results. http://www.legacyforhealth.org/content/download/569/6830/file/truth-research-summary-2012.pdf
  3. Finish It Campaign. http://www.thetruth.com/

4 thoughts on “let’s #FinishIT together!

  1. Multimedia use to promote fear in the audience is an effective way to promote a cause. It made me stop and think and realize just how often health campaigns use the scare tactic. Something very interesting is how these different corporations launched similar campaigns over a period of time. It gave me an idea of partnering with other corporations with like interests during the same window, it could potentially reach a broader audience. I like the concept of the Finish It campaign more than the “scare tactic” campaigns. It’s more empowering and it would be interesting to see the effectiveness level.

  2. I really loved your blog; it was informative, drew from the reading, and gave great examples about the timely use of multimedia about a very pressing health issue. While this type of multi media use may be viewed as scare tactics, I think it is “real and raw” and hits you in the face with the naked, unglamorous truth about cigarette smoking.
    I wonder how they are getting away with this; the tobacco lobby has always fought to suppress negative publicity. I’m sure you have seen in other countries how the actual packs of cigarettes are labeled compared with our country. The labels are big, bold and in black and white SMOKING KILLS! The tobacco lobbyist have generally been successful at controlling labeling of product.

    Another great reason to use social media for this type of message is that it is more difficult to control!

  3. I actually never heard of the FDA’s multimedia campaign before but I think it’s an ingenious way to speak to the Twitter/Instagram generation. Our youth are obsessed with photos, Instagram, and perfecting their images with filters, selfie sticks, blurs, and airbrush apps. An FDA campaign featuring images of how cigarettes can ruin your looks will surely speak to the selfie generation.

  4. Hi Mariya, I actually had never heard of the Finish It campaign and it was great to read about. I think they have a really good point about how to customize a social media campaign for the audience, specifically the generation it is targeting. I have read a lot about the characteristics of the millenial generation and how they really want to be a part of driving social good and making an impact on their world. The Finish It campaign was a great strategy to tie that need in with a campaign to end smoking. Great post and really well done research on existing campaigns that have used social media!

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