FDA Preps Rollout of Massive Anti-Smoking Campaign

Half a Dozen Shops Picked For Five-Year Effort Worth As Much As $390 Million

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After a yearlong review, the FDA has selected six agencies to support its anti-smoking educational efforts.

Largely funded by tax-like fees from tobacco companies, the joint contract will involve a maximum of $390 million awarded over the course of five years.

Agencies handling different assignments under the new initiative include Interpublic Group's Campbell-Ewald, True North Communications (DraftFCB), Mullen Communications, WPP's Grey Global Group, the independent agency Riester and the American Legacy Foundation. Many of these agencies will also subcontract work to their agency partners. For example, Campbell-Ewald might bring in Weber Shandwick; and Legacy will work with agency partners Arnold and Fenton.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

All these firms have experience in cause marketing, but the American Legacy Foundation is perhaps the most familiar with anti-smoking messaging. The public health nonprofit was created in 1999, out of the Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and 46 states. The settlement funded Legacy's provocative Truth campaign. Legacy Chief Operating Officer David Dobbins told Ad Age that budgets have decreased from what they were from 2000 to 2004, but Truth is not dead.

It's expected that the FDA's campaign, however, will take a very different tone. Rather than aiming to recreate the anti-tobacco shock value of the Truth ads, the FDA's new roster will strive to inform teens about the benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle via science-based messages, according to executives familiar with the matter.

Regarding the new initiative, Mr. Dobbins said, "The goal here isn't to supplement the Truth campaign; it is to help the FDA successfully implement a smoking-prevention campaign."

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