Harnessing Youth and Young Adult Culture: Improving the Reach and Engagement of the truth® Campaign

Elizabeth Hair, Lindsay Pitzer, Morgane Bennett, Michael Halenar, Jessica Rath, Jennifer Cantrell, Nicole Dorrler, Eric Asche, Donna Vallone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The national youth and young adult tobacco prevention mass media campaign, truth®, relaunched in 2014 with the goal of creating “the generation that ends smoking.” The objective of this study was to assess whether the strategy of airing truth ads during popular, culturally relevant televised events was associated with higher ad and brand awareness and increases in social media engagement. Awareness of six truth advertisements that aired during popular television events and self-reported social media engagement were assessed via cross-sectional online surveys of youth and young adults aged 15–21 years. Social engagement was also measured using separate Twitter and YouTube metrics. Logistic regression models predicted self-reported social engagement and any ad awareness, and a negative binomial regression predicted the total social media engagement across digital platforms. The study found that viewing a popular televised event was associated with higher odds of ad awareness and social engagement. The results also indicate that levels of social media engagement for an event period are greater than for a nonevent period. The findings demonstrate that premiering advertisements during a popular, culturally relevant televised event is associated with higher awareness of truth ads and increased social engagement related to the campaign, controlling for variables that might also influence the response to campaign messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-575
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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