Teens spend next to no time thinking about the effects of cigarette smoking, but the average teen spends a considerable amount of time playing video games – where they're being exposed to tobacco imagery in unprecedented ways. Many of the top-selling video games – like Halo, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto – feature characters who smoke. And the 56% of teens who play video, computer or mobile games play for an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes per day. Which means Big Tobacco is getting a ton of free advertising in front of our target audience. Since we know from rock-solid research that 44% of teens who start smoking do so because of smoking images that they see in movies, we needed to get our message in front of the gaming audience. With young people behind the controller and Big Tobacco on the screen, we set out to create the first-ever gamified livestream to let gamers interact with our message by doing what they do best – play.
On #NationalPetDay, we hosted the first-ever gamified livestream to show – not just tell – gamers how smoking affects one of the things they care about most: their pets. Armed with the knowledge that cats whose owners smoke are twice as likely to get cancer, we created a live video game that would help users experience a world where cats no longer exist – a.k.a. #CATmageddon. Twitch, the largest livestream gaming network in existence, was the perfect host for the four-hour livestream, as nearly half its users spend 20+ hours a week on the platform. In designing the creative strategy, we took a leap of faith that their teen gaming audience – avid watchers of cat videos – would be willing to spend four hours watching live cats on their computers and mobile devices. We knew we had to make the experience interactive – both to keep viewers entertained and engaged, and to show that the actions humans take have an effect on animals. We wanted people to experience the undeniable cuteness of kittens, contrast with how much we'd miss them (and their adorable videos) if they weren't around – and of course, do it in a way that didn't actually harm any kittens. To attract audience participation, we gave the kittens toys, beds to sleep in, and areas to jump around and play on set. Viewers voted in the chat window on new toys or elements to add to the kittens' environment – yarn balls, laser pointers, ribbons, feathers, and the like. It was as if the audience was actually playing with the kittens. We wanted to present our viewers with the reality of #CATmageddon in a way that didn't trivialize the message that smoking is harmful to animals, but also didn't actually harm animals. To weave in our messaging, we showed our #CATmageddon ad (which displayed the fact that cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owner smokes) every 30 minutes. When the ad was finished playing and the livestream tuned back in, one cat would be removed from the set. By the end of the stream, all of the cats were removed, providing a visual for a world without happy, playful animals – a world that could exist if our viewers didn't get on board to end smoking.
655,000 people—more than twice the typical audience of a livestream on Twitch — tuned in to help kittens keep playing, ultimately causing a 10% lift in awareness of our ad and contributing to a huge increase in anti-tobacco attitudes and intentions not to smoke. More than 35,000 comments were generated in the chat window during the four-hour livestream, and a sentiment report showed 98% positive sentiment — which proves basically nobody can be negative about cat videos.
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!