ARNOLD WORLDWIDE, Boston / CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL / 2015
Despite decades of progress by anti-tobacco groups, 20% of Americans identify themselves as smokers. Although studies show smokers know the basic health effects and most want to quit, one in five U.S. adults still use some form of tobacco regularly.
The goal of the campaign was to drive smokers to a national telephone quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) and a quitting website (cdc.gov/tips), both of which have been proven by the CDC to be effective in increasing quit attempts. A study published in The Lancet, one of the world’s foremost medical journals, found that previous increases in quit line and website activity, due to advertising efforts, resulted in 1.6 million people attempting to quit smoking and more than 100,000 people who permanently quit because of the campaign.
Therefore, our direct marketing communications challenge was to continue to motivate people to seek help quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or by visiting cdc.gov/tips.
Our focus groups showed that while people were aware smoking causes cancer and death, few knew the many other ways smoking harms the body. Our strategy was to change those perceptions. Using real people, all former smokers, we provided ‘tips’ about how to deal with life if smoking leaves you in the same condition.
A wide variety of channels¬–including TV, radio, print, billboards, as well as digital banners, online video, display, search and social media¬–were used to drive people to a national quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) and a quitting website (cdc.gov/tips) for help.
All the work was released nationally and lived concurrently in market for six months. The idea was to get our target to view our message in as many places as possible, making it more difficult to avoid the message and more likely to take action and call the quit line or visit the website.
We know from government research studies that a short-term increase in calls to the campaign quit line and visitors to the website help more people successfully quit in the long-term. While our campaign was live in market, call volume increased to an average of 8,273 calls per week, an increase of 80%. Unique visits to the website increased to an average of 102,602 visits per week for the duration of the campaign, representing an increase of 938%.
This comes at a cost of $480 per smoker who quit and $393 per year of life saved. Compare this to the commonly accepted threshold for cost-effectiveness of a public health intervention at $50,000 per year of life saved. But, more importantly, according to The American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the Tips From Former Smokers campaign will save about 179,000 healthy life-years and contribute to averting about 17,000 premature deaths.
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