The Truth Campaign and the Action Assembly Theory

April 30, 2009

Action Assembly Theory: Public relations requires a company to determine how an audience will react to its campaigning strategies.  In order to do so, the company must figure out who its target audience is, find out what they are thinking and, therefore, discover the behavior tendencies of that specific audience.  


These behavior tendencies can be seen as a prediction for how audiences will react to the company’s campaigning strategies, The Truth campaign works to discover the behavior of teens by their social interaction skills, hobbies or the latest trends.


Currently, technology is very popular in the young scene.  Anything from instant messaging to text messaging seems to have overcome today’s teens, inspiring them to abbreviate as much as they can, with creations like “omg” (oh my god) and “lol” (laugh out loud).  These are only a few of the ways that the younger generations choose to communicate now, which the Truth campaign recognizes and tries to mimic.


The Truth campaign’s slogan is “whadufxup?”.  The slogan has parents translating it with difficulty, which is already an appeal to their children looking to do everything their parents don’t want them to do.  It really translates to “what the f*** is up?” which may not be the most appropriate approach, but it works.  The campaign strategically came up with this slogan by using the tactics of the Action Assembly Theory, which proves that it knows how teens are thinking, what they are attracted to and how to get them to listen.   Once Truth has the audience’s attention, the campaign is able to change their behavior by making onlookers pay attention to what the campaign has to say about the harm that comes from doing drugs


The information from this example came from and J350 materials.



April 30, 2009

Elaboration Likelihood Model

April 30, 2009

Elaboration Likelihood Model: According to this public relations model if a message is repetitive, delivered through a highly credible spokesperson, or there is a tangible reward then people are more likely to gain interest. With this model, public relations practitioners can more effectively market a product to any given public through this “peripheral route.”

The example that our group has chosen to illustrate the Elaboration Likelihood Model is the “Sunny Side of Truth Remix CD” put out by the Infect Truth campaign.

This CD produced by 9 well-known dj’s in attempts to teach teens about the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. The “Sunny Side of Truth Remix CD” is a compilation of remixed songs from the Truth campaign from hip-hop to house music. It aims to create awareness on the ills of tobacco use through popular music. This is a good example of the Elaboration Likelihood Model because the CD showcases famous dj’s as advocates for the campaign that help to gain interest in the underlined message of the campaign: there are harmful chemicals in cigarettes. Because this message is delivered by mainstream dj’s (highly credible spokespeople) and the music is played repeatedly (repetition), according to the Elaboration Likelihood Model the publics are more likely to pick up the message of the campaign.

This video is showcasing the dj Kaskade, one of the producers of the “Sunny Side of Truth Remix CD.”

The information for this example came from the Truth website ( and J350 course materials.

TRUTH Campaign/Public Information Model

April 29, 2009

The public information model is used in order to inform for public, without an emphasis on pressing for promotion and publicity. The information distributed out to the public is one-way, and is used by public relations practices in government, educational institutions, some corporations, and many nonprofit organizations. Public relation firms using this model do very little research about their target audiences, beyond testing the clarity of their advertisements, and instead value accuracy about all else when communicating with the public. 

The Infect TRUTH campaign was designed to make teenagers, specifically, aware of how many chemicals are added to cigarettes, and just how many detrimental effects these chemicals can have on ones life. In 2001, the TRUTH campaign aired a blatant tongue-and-cheek ad, portraying a real phone call to Lorillard, a Tobacco company, from an actor who claimed to be a dog walker. Well aware of companies such as Lorillard adding the chemical urea to their product, the “actor” made a business proposition to the company, asking if he could sell them his dogs’ urine (which also contains urea). The telephone conversation was aired on several radio stations, which was quickly caught by Lorillard- who threatened to refer the ad to criminal prosecutors. However, the ad fully complied with all relevant legal requirements, having been placed from and to one-party consent states. 

Weird to think that some of what you're inhaling into your body is urine

Weird to think that some of what you're inhaling into your body is urine. Who would want to admit they were addicted to that?




This is an example of the public information model, because the TRUTH campaign put out this ad in order to inform the public of one chemical in particular that tobacco companies put in their cigarette products. It is one-way information, in which the practitioners (of this model) value accuracy, but decide what method would generate the best results with their target audience. Today, the public information model is used in public relations practices in government, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and even in some corporations.

The TRUTH campaign is the largest national nonprofit youth-focused anti-tobacco campaign in history. This advertisement controversy is only one way in which the campaign targets kids and teenagers to inform them about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes. 


Truth Blog / 2 Way Symmetrical Model

April 28, 2009

The two-way symmetrical model of public relations emphasizes two-way communication between stakeholders and the organization. In this model, organizations and publics adjust to each other. Instead of simply sending information out into the universe to persuade stakeholders, the organization engages its publics and encourages them to communicate actively and give feedback.  In doing this, the organization gains support from key stakeholders. According to James E. Grunig, a noted public relations theorist, the two-way symmetrical model of public relations balances “self-interests with the interests of others in a give-and-take process that can waver between advocacy and collaboration.”


The example that Group 13 has chosen to illustrate the two-way symmetrical model is the truth anti-smoking campaign’s use of social networking. Truth has a blog, facebook, and myspace page, all of which it uses to “infect truth” (a.k.a. spread the word→ SMOKING KILLS!).

This is an example of the two-way symmetrical model because truth uses blogging, facebook, and MySpace as tools to build relationships with its stakeholders. Instead of simply maintaing a website and advertising, truth promotes online discussion about anti-smoking topics.


The blog (titled “Infectious Blog”) provides shocking facts about cigarettes and Big Tobacco while encouraging participation from audiences. For example, the April 20th entry of Infectious Blog encouraged audiences to copy and paste amusing but informing disclaimers about smoking into their email “signatures.” Then send them out to friends.


The truth facebook page has 1,610 “fans,” many of which who leave “wall posts” or “comments” on the page on a regular basis.

And truth has a myspace page, similar to its facebook page, where stakeholders can watch videos, comment, and “infect truth.”

Truth doesn’t just inform its publics, it engages and encourages them to get involved in the cause. The two-way symmetrical model best explains this technique.

Information for these examples, information about the two-way symmetrical model of PR, and pictures were provided by:

Our textbook,,,

Truth Campaign Commercials / Social Exchange Theory

April 26, 2009

As an important facet of the ongoing Truth Campaign, commercials like the ‘You don’t always die from tobacco’ ad,which incorporate humorous songs with health facts about smoking,  successfully apply the Social Exchange Theory in order to communicate to their target audiences that the costs of smoking outweigh the benefits. The commercial satirically lists the negative health effects caused by smoking (or costs) in the song, thereby telling audience to factor in the consequences of their behavior because they overshadow any positive effects (or benefits). This approach/theory operates under the assumption that people inherently minimize their costs and maximize their rewards before acting, therefore emphasizing the negative effects of smoking will act as a deterrent to them.

Because of ads that incoprorate ‘costs,’ such as the aforementioned ‘You don’t always die from tobacco’ commercial, a significant decrease in smoking among American youth has occured; according to statistics gathered by the American Journal of Public Health,  high schooler’s ciggarette use dropped from 28% to less than 23%  (a drop of more than 1 million smokers) in the two years following the debut of truth television advertisements.

works cited:

information was used from  my J350 lecture notes from 4/03 – 4/21

Read the rest of this entry »