The ads, with an "Infects 2009" theme, extend the foundation's nine-year-old campaign. This is also the first in a series of campaigns this year by the Washington, D.C., organization.
The videos are executed with an impromptu feel, complete handheld cameras and twenty-something hosts. They are designed to illustrate the absurdity of various tobacco claims promulgated by cigarette executives. One spot has a pack of 100 people in orange t-shirts invading a grocery store, tearing into bags of gummy bears and pouring them directly into their mouths in a feeding frenzy. One of the hosts lifts a megaphone and tells the amazed shoppers that in 1997, a tobacco executive said cigarettes are addictive -- like gummy bears."
In another, 10 people dressed in orange Hazmat suits surround restaurant-goers who are about to eat some freshly ground pepper as a mob rushes through the restaurant screaming at the sight of the pepper. In the swarm, one of the Hazmat crewmembers grabs the pepper mill. After the mob leaves and the restaurant begins to quiet down, the host -- using a bullhorn -- says "in 1996, one tobacco company claimed that secondhand smoke might be even less risky than eating pepper frequently. Secondhand smoke kills about 50,000 Americans a year. Still waiting on the number of people pepper killed last year."
The videos will be on -- and are designed to complement -- new MTV shows like "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory," "Nitro Circus," "Made," "Bully Beatdown" and "TI's Road to Redemption." Past Truth/MTV efforts include "Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island," where 20 former contestants from MTV's "The Real World" and "Road Rules" fought for their own survival and a share of $300,000.
Nicole Dorrler, senior director of marketing at Truth, says the new program with MTV, which runs through May, precedes a new multimedia campaign set for June. "A lot of our strategy here is not just with MTV--it's really to find content relevant to that audience." She says that upcoming efforts include summer partnerships around music and emerging bands, including sponsorship of the Vans Warped Tour, with which Truth has been involved for nine years; and programs with Fuel and Fuse networks.
The June campaign will be, per Dorrler, "an anti-industry, anti-manipulation method, using facts like 'every 6.5 seconds someone dies from tobacco-related disease'."
She says the group's marketing budget -- this year between $20 million and $30 million -- is less than what the tobacco industry spends in a day. Per the foundation, 3,900 young people ages 12 to 17 try a cigarette for the first time every day.