Rage Against the Haze
When the state of South Carolina received their Tobacco Settlement stipend, it became the responsibility of the state to create an awareness campaign for teens about the dangers of tobacco use. And do it in Big Tobacco’s back yard (not an easy task).
Other states were pumping their settlement funds into huge media campaigns with in-your-face TV ads. But once the ads quit running, the teen smoking rates went back up (SOURCE: American Cancer Society).
- To spread awareness of the dangers of tobacco use
- To cause a 5% decrease in youth smoking rates in South Carolina
- To create something so powerful, it would survive budget cuts
Instead of trying to engineer a media campaign, we created something much more sustainable. We gave the reins to the teens and helped them develop a youth-led movement. So, we hand-picked 92 teens who we knew could champion the cause. They played a key role in the development of everything – from the name and identity, to the proprietary curriculum that we penned. We trained and armed them with the tools to spread the word, and then sent them on their way to find other “ViralMentalists™.”
To help, we conducted weekend retreats, statewide tours, Festi-Viral events led by the teens in different cities across the state. We created an interactive website where they could check in with each other, and a RAGE store where they could get SWAG – but only if they were out spreading the word and could prove it.
We sparked and shaped the movement. But the teens are the ones that owned and grew it.
- 16.9% drop in youth tobacco use rates, surpassing the 5% goal – one of the highest in the nation. That’s with no mass media. And no tax increase on cigarettes.
- There are 6,000+ active ViralMentalists Raging Against the Haze.
- The smoking rate drop is unprecedented since SC has the cheapest cigarette prices in the nation. The rest of the US funded television and school campaigns from a $206 billion settlement — none of which was ever implemented by the state of South Carolina. And the budget did get hit by a bus. But RAGE lives on and continues to grow.
- The RAGE movement has earned a WOMMIE Award, a National ADDY and a 2008 gold EFFIE Award.