Truth Gets Ugly In New Integrated Campaign


The Legacy Foundation's "truth" campaign to get young people to revile cigarettes is back on television for the first time since 2010. But that's just one part of an extensive new traditional and digital program that includes social media, online videos and challenges, and out-of-home -- all to get kids clued into some especially bad facts about cigarettes and the companies that roll them.

The campaign, "ugly truth," via Boston-based Arnold Worldwide, sets pairs of facts against each other, and encourages people to choose the uglier of the two. Each of the three TV spots has “truth” crews encouraging passersby to examine horrid truths about cigarettes, elaborated by ersatz street installations, and vote on which is worse.

One ad set on a New York City street has an oversized, stuffed cat and dog pair on pedestals to illustrate that methane is found in both dog poop and cigarette smoke, and urea is found in cat pee as well as cigarettes. People react to the facts, and then vote as to which fact is the “ugliest truth.” Viewers can vote at #votePOOP or #votePEE.

The ads will run on broadcast and digital properties from April 29 through June 30 on cable channels like Adult Swim, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, TeenNick and VH1. 

The MTV alignment includes the "Girl Code" channel with a four-episode, short-form TV series in which cast members from the show will reveal and create parallels between the most timely girl topics and the “ugly truths” about tobacco. Truth says the short-form series will launch on May 7 within the premiere episode of the show. 

Digital is on and a raft of youth-friendly sites, and social platforms. Truth’s Web site has, among other things, some 50 “ugly truth” illustrations, videos and animated graphics. YouTube comedy duo phenom Smosh will write and produce a video sketch based on the "ugly truth" campaign concept and facts, which will be on and And author/illustrator Mark Crilley will do a custom video showing a  campaign-related fact in a time-lapse format. The video will be on his own YouTube channel and across truth’s social media properties. 

Online artist community deviantART will run a challenge on asking people to draw inspiration from one of four ugly truths, and then submit examples of their ugliest Monster, Giant, Mutant or Undead art reflecting them. Finalist artwork will be on truth’s social media properties. “Ugly truth” will also be integrated with Angry Bird's developer Rovio's new video channel.

The organization is also doing an out-of-home play involving blown-up tobacco industry documents that expose inflammatory sales tactics and marketing segmentation ideas such as a plan to get gays and homeless people to smoke more, and segmentation of African-Americans as less educated, with a preference for malt liquor. Viewers are asked to #votePROFILING or #voteSTEREOTYPES, depending on which they find the ugliest truth.

Eric Asche, Legacy’s CMO said, in a statement, that the organization stays relevant partly because communications are peer-to-peer, "rather than [us] preaching to them." He said the traditional creative is interactive because it lets them vote with a quick hashtag vote, "while our digital platform extends the conversation time with more high-touch interactions.”

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