This Free Life was the first multi-market, primarily digital campaign designed to change tobacco-related beliefs among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young adults. Our evaluation sought to determine whether campaign exposure resulted in changes in tobacco-related beliefs. We summarize awareness and receptivity at the conclusion of the campaign and assess the effect of campaign exposure on tobacco-related beliefs in campaign treatment markets compared with control markets.
Twenty-four U.S. designated market areas were selected to receive the campaign or serve as control markets. A baseline survey was conducted in 2016, with six follow-up surveys conducted approximately 6 months apart over the course of the 3-year campaign. 12,324 LGBT young adult survey participants were recruited via intercept interviews and social media. Campaign effects on outcomes were estimated using difference-in-difference panel regression models, with p-values corrected for multiple comparisons.
Brand and ad awareness peaked in treatment markets approximately 2.5 years into the 3-year campaign and were significantly higher in treatment than control markets. Brand equity and ad receptivity were generally high and similar across LGBT subgroups. There were small but significant campaign effects on five tobacco-related beliefs, with difference-in-difference estimates ranging from 1.9–5.6 percentage points.
This Free Life, the first multi-market tobacco public education campaign for LGBT young adults, reached and resonated with a large and diverse population, and had a small effect on beliefs involving social aspects of smoking. These findings should inform future communication efforts aimed at reducing tobacco use among LGBT young adults.
Modest overall campaign effects suggest that further research on effective campaign messaging and delivery to LGBT young adults is needed. Campaign messaging style, delivery channels, and targeted outcomes likely contributed to these findings. Health communication efforts for LGBT young adults should consider the limitations of digital media in achieving sufficient exposure. Ad style and content optimized for a digital environment is an area that will benefit from further development.