Blog Post

Educating Young Adults About Health

January 18, 2017

Educating Young Adults About Health

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – Enough with the Puff

Young adults (18-29) represent a critical audience for public health: They may engage in risky behaviors, lack insurance coverage, and possess a sense of invincibility when it comes to their health. In particular, non-college attending or “straight-to-work” young adults are a critical audience: They are targeted by the tobacco industry, smoke at higher rates than the general population, and are likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke at work. Their tobacco use is sporadic and frequently associated with drinking alcohol. As such, they may not self-identify as a “smoker” or respond to traditional cessation messages.

SE2 took the tobacco industry’s own research on how to market to young adults to get them to smoke, and flipped it on its head. SE2 used the industry’s same segmentation strategy to reach these audiences with anti-tobacco messages.

SE2 and its partner Launch Advertising developed a campaign targeting two psychographic segments of young adults – Thrill-seeking Socializers and Stoic Individuals, who historically have been targeted by tobacco industry marketing.

The media campaign, which was developed with our project partner InLine Media, used native content on websites targeting young adults (e.g., gaming and beauty sites); retargeted advertising; and outreach through social media personalities on sites like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The ads and content drove young adults to a website with quizzes, humor and contextual concepts that are relatable to them, helping them to acknowledge and eventually question their smoking behavior.

In the first four weeks of the campaign, we attracted 33,000 young adults to the website. 1,000 of those visitors completed activities on the website that set them down the path of learning more about the slippery slope of tobacco addiction.

The influencer campaign generated nearly 22,000 engagements, many of which were stories about their personal struggles with tobacco addiction and support of the issue.

The campaign broke new ground for public health communications in Colorado, using emerging approaches that can be applied to a wide range of public health issues.

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