American Legacy Foundation Infects Truth Virally

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American Legacy Foundation
American Legacy Foundation "Infect Truth"
Not all infections should be avoided like the plague, as the American Legacy Foundation's newest Truth campaign is taking the term "viral" back to its medical roots by encouraging teens to spread web-based "Infections" to as many friends as possible. "The idea behind the whole campaign is that knowledge is contagious," says Arnold creative director John Kearse. "The more you spread it around, the more you 'infect' your friends and your neighbors, the more powerful this knowledge becomes. Infecting people online is just a natural fit."

Each "Infection" contains a vital piece of knowledge relating to smoking and the tobacco industry, and takes the form of amusing viral goodies like downloadable screensavers and desktop themes, suggestions for do-it-yourself real world tasks called "Quickies," and a personalized e-card sender dubbed (Be warned—back hair abounds.) Why so many "Infections" to choose from? "We generally start with a long list of facts about tobacco and the tobacco industry, and then unleash a lot of creative minds on them," says Kearse. "In this case, there was a need for so many 'Infections' that we opened it up to many, many people—art directors, programmers, Flash guys, copywriters, account people, even creative directors (who are generally more adept at attending meetings). The ideas really came from everywhere."

And to illustrate that knowledge really does grow the more it spreads, the Truth website tracks the number of infections spread and presents the data as an expanding "growth" on the side of a Big Tobacco skyscraper. When clicked, the growth reveals each user's network of infected friends. "The growth on the building not only has to pull in data about how many infections had been made, but it also has to size the growth accordingly while keeping it positioned on the building for effect," says Arnold associate creative director Meg Siegal. "This meant creating an algorithm that would dynamically pull in the data and affect the scale and position of the growth in real time conjunction with the infection data."
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