Branding Behavior

The Strategy Behind the Truth Campaign

Published in: Social Marketing Quarterly, v. viii, no. 3, Fall, 2002, p. 17-29

by W. Douglas Evans, Jeffrey Wasserman, Elena Bertolotti, Steven C. Martino

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The American Legacy Foundation's truth campaign uses a branding strategy to change adolescent and young adults' attitudes and behavior and to encourage them to adopt a nonsmoking lifestyle. This strategy and its execution represent an evolution from previous antismoking social marketing efforts. It offers lessons not only for future anti- smoking campaigns, but also for social marketing aimed at preventing or controlling many other youth risk behaviors. The persuasive mechanisms by which truth's branding strategy works need to be understood within the context of existing social psychological theories of attitude and belief formation, as well as behavior change. Brand equity is a central measure of the truth campaign's strategy. The authors describe a new brand equity scale based on previous work in advertising research and present data from a campaign tracking survey. They conclude that the campaign has high brand equity among its target audience, 12- to 17-year-otds, and has changed important attitudes and beliefs related to smoking. Future research will investigate the relationships among brand equity, relevant intervening variables, and smoking behavior.

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