Empowering the Youth of Virginia to
Choose Not to Use Tobacco Products

Marketing Campaign

The “Y Campaign”
The mission of the VTSF’s “Y Campaign” is to reduce youth tobacco use in Virginia by empowering Virginia youth to choose a healthy lifestyle. The focus market of the campaign, which is based on the most extensive youth marketing research ever conducted in Virginia, is youth 10 to 17 years old, with a special emphases on “tweens” ages 10 to 14. The tagline of the Y Campaign reaches out to ask kids: “Can anybody tell us why smoking isn’t stupid?” The campaign’s powerful message targets youth through a multimedia marketing effort including television and radio commercials, an interactive Web site — — cinema advertising, and street marketing activities.

Why the Y?
The central visual element of the multi-faceted campaign is its distinctive logo – a black letter Y in a bright yellow circle with a circled question mark on the outer perimeter. It is integrated into every facet of the Y Campaign, in such a way as to make it instantly recognizable and compelling to Virginia youth. The logo is a visual stand-in for the Y Campaign’s core tagline: Can anybody tell us why smoking isn’t stupid?

Television and Radio
Capitalizing on television as the highest-ranking media activity for Virginia teens and tweens, the Y Campaign launched its first series of TV commercials to air throughout Virginia in April 2002. In June 2006, VTSF released three additional 30-second television spots entitled “Belly Fat”, “Frog”, and “Off to School”. The total ydouthink campaign library now includes 30 30-second TV spots and 23 60-second radio spots. Over the years, the VTSF’s creative work has been recognized for its excellence. The TV spots rotate on broadcast stations and cable networks on programs with wide teen/tween appeal. The Y Campaign can also be heard in radio commercials airing on teen and tween-format radio stations around Virginia.

Some highlights from the campaign:

The VTSF’s most recently released TV spot “Belly Dance” was chosen as one of the “TV Spots of the Week” by Advertising Age.
The VTSF television commercial entitled “Makeover” was awarded the Silver Cannonball at The Richmond Show 2005 in the category of Public Service Television, Single.
The VTSF television commercial entitled “Kissing Booth” was an award finalist in the 2005 Telly Awards in the “Miscellaneous” category under the Regional TV & Multi-Market Cable category.
The VTSF television commercial entitled “Lick” was awarded the Bronze Cannonball at The Richmond Show 2003 in the category of Consumer Television, Larger Budget :30 Single.
The commercial entitled “Jobs,” which features Buttman, was selected in April of 2003 by Adweek as one of best commercials of the month from all commercials across the nation.

With four out of five Virginia youths going online at home, and nearly as many at school, according to VTSF research, the interactive component of the Y Campaign plays a major role in shaping the youth tobacco use prevention movement.

The Y Campaign interactive web site ( is first and foremost, fun for teens and tweens. It features a DJ mixing board where kids can mix their own videos from a selection of music genres and funny characters, and then e-mail them to a friend. Several games on the site give the kids several fun activities to do, while at the same time educating them about not using tobacco products.

In June 2002, won a Bronze Lion award in the most competitve and prestigious advertising competition in the world, the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France. Competing among 1,343 entries from 41 countries, the VTSF site won the Bronze Lion in the Festival’s Cyber Lions non-profit category, which honors excellence in online marketing communications.

Street Marketing
Street marketing, or youth peer interaction, helps build relationships with tweens and teens, reaching them on a personal level. The Y Campaign street teams interact with the youth and facilitate the hand-to-hand distribution of materials and tobacco-prevention messages. (Request a visit from the Street Team.)

Since the Y Campaign is based entirely on research with the youth of Virginia, it is important that evaluation of the campaign take place on a regular basis to ensure that the campaign message is resonating with its target audience. Looking at results from other youth tobacco use and substance abuse prevention campaigns, the rule of thumb is that meaningful changes in awareness are generally expected after 12 months of concerted efforts, in attitude in about 18 months, and in behavior after about 24 months. The VTSF conducts research at 6 month intervals to gauge awareness, attitude and behavior levels among the youth of Virginia. This research will help guide the Foundation as it develops new strategies to reach Virginia’s youth and influence them to not use tobacco products.