Not A 'Pretty' Sight - New "ugly truth®" Campaign Presents A No-Win Proposition

Campaign returns to television, expands digital and social initiatives, while pitting tobacco industry facts against one another

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tobacco-related facts and the business tactics of the tobacco industry take center stage in the latest advertising campaign from truth®, the nation's largest smoking prevention campaign for youth and young adults. The "ugly truth" campaign features the campaign's first television ads since 2010, while also utilizing entertainment integrations, contests, social and digital media to educate and connect with teens and young people through a range of media and initiatives.



"ugly truth" reveals sets of thought-provoking facts, designed to illicit responses to how the tobacco industry characterizes potential customers and has developed its products. Through three television spots and affiliated outreach online, viewers and visitors are encouraged to weigh the gravity of two different facts, and decide "What's the ugliest truth?" Respondents can then cast their votes over social media as to which fact resonates with them more. Teens can vote for the 'ugliest truth' at, on truth's Facebook site, and via hashtags on Twitter and Instagram.

"With more than 23 percent of high school youth currently using tobacco products, our campaign remains as vital as ever in combating this continuing public health problem," said Cheryl Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy, the national public health foundation that directs and funds the truth campaign. "State tobacco control program funding has been slashed by 36 percent in the past four years, while tobacco industry spending remains at high levels and tobacco companies continue to evolve their product offerings. With this campaign, we marry traditional video channels like TV with the online video channels and social channels that we know young people love to use and where they routinely go to seek information and share with friends."

The three 30-second television spots will launch on a staggered schedule starting at the end of April, serving as a platform to highlight tobacco industry practices and drive online engagement. Video-sharing, digital integrations with teen sites, and video partnerships involving online personalities and ugly truth-inspired artwork will help spark conversations online with teens and among teens, with many elements designed to be shared and discussed. The participatory nature of the campaign – in which teens and young people are presented with information and then asked to make their own decisions about how to react to it  – sticks to the campaign's longtime tenet to provide facts and then respect teens and young people's abilities to think for themselves. 

"We launched truth more than a decade ago, in partnership with Arnold Worldwide, with the aim of getting teens to think twice before smoking," said Eric Asche, Legacy's Chief Marketing Officer. "The campaign was innovative back then – and continues to be so today – because we remain relevant by communicating with teens peer-to-peer rather than preaching to them. To effectively engage teens, the ugly truth campaign invites them to join the tobacco conversation. The creative will run through traditional channels, handing over control to the audience by letting them decide 'what's the ugliest truth?' with a quick hashtag vote, while our digital platform extends the conversation time with more high-touch interactions."



Poop Vs. Pee

Shot off a New York City cross-street, a giant dog stuffed animal and a giant cat stuffed animal stand on two tall Plexiglas cylinders. The spot highlights the fact that methane is found in both dog poop and cigarette smoke, and that 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', #votePOOP or #votePEE.

1075 vs. 135

Research shows Big Tobacco's products kill 1075 smokers every day. In addition, 137 people die every day from the effects of secondhand smoke. In this spot, large murals featuring life-sized outlines of people represent tobacco's deadly, daily toll.  Passers-by are asked to vote on which fact is the ugliest truth, #vote1075 or #vote137. 

Stereotypes vs. Profiling

Large-scale versions of actual tobacco industry documents are posted on a billboard, for passers-by to see and react to. The documents outline a past plan by Big Tobacco to sell cigarettes to gays and the homeless. The ads also highlight disparaging descriptions tobacco executives once had for African Americans, labeling them as less educated, prefer malt liquor, and having problems with low self-esteem – all characterizations revealed in company documents. Viewers are asked to #votePROFILING or #voteSTEREOTYPES, depending on which they find the ugliest truth.


The campaign will run on broadcast and digital properties from April 29 through June 30, 2013. 

Spots will air on cable channels popular with teens and young people, including adult swim, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, TeenNick and VH1.


  • thetruth.comtruth's main online hub will feature almost 50 unique "ugly truth" facts as illustrations, videos and animated graphics. Here, the site audience can track voting around the ugly truth. The "Gallery" section of the site will feature all of the facts that are in the running to be named the "Ugliest truth."
  • Video-Sharing: Video network placements will seed videos from the ugly truth across a range of digital sites popular with teens and young adults, including YuMe, Rovio, Specific Media, Alloy Digital, YouTube, Sharethrough and the Viacom Digital Network. Placements will live on media sites relating to casual gaming, entertainment, shopping, sports and recreation, and beauty and fashion - among other topics that are common teenage passions.
  • Digital integrations will be featured on Web sites including Alloy Digital, Deviant Art, Viacom, and Specific Media.
  • truth® maintains a strong presence on social networks and profile pages on Facebook (, YouTube (, Twitter (, Pinterest (, Tumblr ( and on Instagram (@truthorange). truth's networks will reflect the campaign creative and include content like polls and photos.
  • Twitter Voting – By tweeting hashtags associated with various tobacco facts, users will vote for the fact they think is the ugliest truthengaging users with the campaign and sparking dialogue between truth and anyone affected by our ugly truths. Beyond the voting hashtags, #uglytruth will serve as a general campaign hashtag for those interested in discussing or following the conversation around the general campaign.
  • Animations
    Short 30-60-second animations will be featured on The artwork will bring to life various ugly truths. Lead creative agency Arnold Worldwide worked in partnership with four animation partners on this initiative, including Rated R (Chicago), Zanimation (Los Angeles), Black Math (Boston), and Rated Content (New York).


Alloy Digital

Smosh: YouTube stars and comedy duo, Smosh, will write and produce a video sketch based on the ugly truth campaign concept and facts. The video will live on and, but will drive traffic to ugly truth spots across truth's social media properties.

Mark Crilley: Author/illustrator Mark Crilley will create a custom video inspired by the ugly truth campaign, illustrating a campaign-related fact in a time lapse format. The video will be shared on his YouTube channel and across truth's social media properties.  


At South by Southwest 2013, Rovio announced a new video channel within its popular Angry Birds games. truth will be part of this program's launch partner shortlist. As part of the program, truth will feature its ugly truth videos within Rovio's game and YouTube channels.


Girl Code is a new female-driven comedy series from MTV. The popular channel and the truth campaign will create a four-episode, original 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. The short-form series, called Girl Code Revenge Squad, will debut May 7 within the premiere episode of Girl Code.  


deviantART is the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts. A challenge appearing on the site will ask users to draw inspiration from one of four ugly truth facts, and then submit examples of their ugliest Monster, Giant, Mutant or Undead art. Finalist artwork will be displayed on truth's social media properties.  


Henry-Alex Rubin directed the television spots. Since joining the film, TV, commercial and music video production company SMUGGLER in 2005, Rubin has been successfully directing commercials for some of the largest clients in the advertising world, and previously worked with truth as director on the 2009 campaign "Do You Have What It Takes?". Rubin most recently directed the newly-released feature film, Disconnect, starring Alexander Skarsgard and Jason Bateman.

ugly truth was developed by Arnold Worldwide of Boston, in conjunction with Legacy. Arnold is the foundation's agency of record for the truth campaign.

A growing body of research has confirmed the efficacy of the truth campaign in changing teens' attitudes and behaviors toward smoking. A study published in the May 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) found that truth was directly responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke during its first four years, from 2000 to 2004. A second paper in that same publication found that the campaign not only paid for itself in its first two years but also saved roughly $1.9 billion and possibly up to $5.4 billion in medical care costs to society.

truth® is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking. truth gives teens facts and information about the tobacco industry and its products, allowing them to make their own informed choices about tobacco use. Research-proven as an effective public health intervention, the campaign is credited with keeping hundreds of thousands of teens from starting to smoke. To learn more, visit truth is directed and funded by Legacy, a national public health foundation located in Washington, D.C. Legacy was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy's life-saving programs, visit

Follow us on Twitter: @truthpr

SOURCE Legacy - truth Campaign


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