The anti-smoking organization truth and its agency 72andSunny are using MTV's Video Music Awards (VMA) to launch its latest project to encourage teens not to smoke. With a total of 2:30 of TV airtime during the show, it’s the biggest presence truth and the agency have had at the VMAs since their partnership began in 2014.
"Our goal is to make an impact in culture with teens — and the VMAs is the perfect stage for that," says Kasia Molenda, strategy director, 72andSunny. "We've seen great success in launching our work at the VMAs in the past and wanted to lean into learnings from previous years."
The 60-second “FinishIT - Smoking Gap” spot takes its cue from the national conversation around wage gaps by pairing statistics around smoking’s impact on income inequality. It uses a song from DJ/performer Diplo.
The creative is designed to show teens that when it comes to their future paychecks, smoking is one contributor to wage disparity that they actually have control over, says the agency.
The 60-second "Squadless" clip follows several teens who are unable to join their friends because they spent their money on cigarettes. Through a rap, teens discuss their woes, like how one is left sitting on the couch with his flatulent grandparent while his friends go to the movies.
Another teen is left behind while her friends have fun at a music festival, leaving her to try and steal a peek from a nearby tree top. These clips are interspersed with slate cards featuring statements such as how research proves "smokers earn 20% less cash than non-smokers" and that teens need to "be the generation that ends smoking."
YouTube personality Timothy DeLaGhetto and Vine stars Lele Pons and Brent Rivera will also support the #Squadless campaign by creating their own rap verses to start a rap battle on MTV’s VMA Pre-Show Snapchat live story.
Twitter users will get a custom emoji if they #Squadless on the day following the VMAs.
Although the term 'squad' has become synonymous with Taylor Swift, 72andSunny isn't directly referring to her squad of friends with this initiative. "We chose to use 'squad' because that's the way teens talk," says Molenda. "With every campaign, we have to use their language to really make an impact and expose the facts behind Big Tobacco and its effects on not just their future, but their current lifestyle."
#Squadless follows truth and 72andSunny’s previous campaigns that illustrate how smoking impacts teen lives in surprising ways, including harming their pets and making them less attractive to their peers.