The Truth Campaign on Opioids

How a Tobacco Cessation Campaign Takes on the Opioid Epidemic

Amélie Co

The renowned TRUTH campaign launched a new initiative highlighting the facts surrounding the opioid epidemic. This offers a great example of how behavior change campaigns­ (sometimes known as: “social campaigns,” “cause marketing” or, “health marketing campaigns”) closely resemble consumer brand campaigns in so many ways. Just as well-known brands leverage their trusted brand name to enter new product categories (think of all the Arm & Hammer extensions), the TRUTH opioid campaign is using its immense brand capital from tobacco to enter the daunting new world of opioid disorders and their dire consequences.

 

Let’s look at three parallels between behavior-change campaigns and consumer campaigns:

 

1. Same goal, different actions

Both campaigns aim to change behavior, but each targets different actions. Consumer campaigns are typically driving to new product trials while behavior change is hoping to create new habits in daily life.

 

2. Same techniques, different names

Whether in consumer products or in cause-related marketing, all advertisers map out the journey for their target audience. A purchase funnel describes those stages along the path to brand loyalty; similarly, the behavior change continuum tracks the progress of acquiring sustainable new behavior.

 

3. Same measurement, different units

Both brand and behavior-based campaigns measure their success. Brands focus on counting sales, while behavior campaigns are looking for proof of new, sustainable actions.

 

Of course, there are similarities and differences between the original TRUTH campaign and its new opioid focus. Both campaigns rely on “scare tactics,” a sometimes controversial approach among health communicators, meant to jar the audience out of their patterned behavior. But, while the TRUTH tobacco campaign consistently portrayed Big Tobacco as the culprit, the opioid campaign stops short of blaming Big Pharma, while still calling out the alarming facts around prescription rates. For the millions of Americans affected, we sincerely hope that the TRUTH campaign will be as effective against the opioid epidemic as it has been in teen tobacco cessation.

Amélie Company also serves brands, causes and initiatives that strive to have a positive impact in people’s lives. This includes our recent work to combat stigma surrounding opioid addiction. Visit LiftTheLabel.org to see more.