Burdensome, Piggy-Backing Creeps Created By McCann Global Health Address Teen Vaping Crisis

19 Nov 2019

Vaping among adolescents is a public health crisis; the number of youth vaping doubled last year to 3.6 million teens prompting the U.S Surgeon General to declare it a national epidemic. In late 2018, the Evelyn Lily Lutz Foundation decided they could not sit by and watch the young people in their communities suffer the consequences of nicotine addiction and the unknown health impacts of vaping idly.  

The Lutz Foundation and McCann Global Health partnered to bring a community driven anti-vaping campaign to life in Beverly, MA. Starting with a digital awareness campaign that aimed at empowering youth to quit –or never start– vaping. With a series of darkly comedic and arresting social scenarios, the “Get the Vape off Your Back”campaign shows the heavy burden vaping takes on teenagers’ lives and the interruptions it brings to social interactions. 

This campaign includes four short video spots that personify vapes as creeps constantly hanging on to you and ruining your life by causing drama, forcing you to be a slave to battery charge, and making you a “burn out”. Revealing vapes as the burden they are, these spots are connecting with teens in a uniquely creative way to address this burgeoning health crisis. Suzanne Graves, MD, President of the Evelyn Lily Lutz Foundation remarked on the strategy to step outside of typical public health PSAs, “We needed something different, something bold, to reach young people in a way that resonated.”

The campaign is grounded in a social norms-based approach to behavior change, using insights gathered from interviews with local teens and social listening. Additionally, McCann formed local advisory groups with teens and key community members including parents, educators, and policy-makers in Beverly, Massachusetts to gather further insight. 

Since launching, the campaign has received widespread media traction from the Boston community and advertising industry, winning Advertising Health’s Ad of the Week. Another outlet, Muse, noted: 

“McCann […] pull[s] off a delicate balancing act, creating a world that combines absurdist humor with a level of menace that never goes too far” – David GianatasioMuse

The films are the first part of a multi-pronged anti-vaping campaign, which includes the development of anti-vaping parent discussion toolsto be rolled-out over the next six months and alongside an in-school program to promote kicking the habit. McCann is working closely with a monitoring and evaluation partner from Boston University to track the effects of the campaign overtime with the aim of making the campaign as effective as possible and widely applicable.  While the project is currently focused on to Beverly, MA, the early success of this community -led approach may have replicability in communities around the country. 

McCann Global Health’s work with the Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation was set against a backdrop of increasing press coverage, confirmed health impacts, and policy initiatives around the country that brought attention to the teen vaping crisis. The Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation recognized this coming crisis before it hit fever pitch nationally, confirming that community insights can help lead the way for public health interventions.

The Evelyn Lilly Lutz Foundation supports and encourages medical research and public health education in connection with Beverly Hospital, Massachusetts. For more information on the Evelyn Lily Lutz Foundation please visit evelynlillylutzfoundation.com.

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