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From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards


Finalist in Instagram


This Free Life (TFL) is the first-ever national tobacco-prevention effort dedicated to reaching LGBT young adults ages 18-24 who are occasional smokers. The campaign challenges the perception that tobacco is a normal part of LGBT culture. The goal is to affect positive change in knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs that lead to behavior change among our audience.

Before launch, the campaign conducted a thorough literature review and formative research that yielded meaningful insights about our LGBT young adult audience, including their affinity for digital media. We learned that our audience uses social media more frequently than their peers. 90% of LGBT young adults are on social media, and they are most likely to engage with LGBT content that reflects their values. Research also yielded key cultural insights about our audience's lives. These insights, like how they resonate with authentic portrayals of diverse LGBT peers, helped shape TFL's Instagram lifestyle content toward our campaign objectives.

This Free Life relies heavily on multiple social media platforms to challenge the perception that tobacco is a normal part of being LGBT, and plans content based on each platform's demographics and platform culture. TFL's Instagram channel is crucial because the platform is a perfect venue for authentic LGBT lifestyle content, including posts featuring our own live events and target audience; 64% of LGBT young adults use the platform. TFL's goal for our Instagram feed is to establish TFL as an authentic LGBT lifestyle brand and engage our target audience with the tobacco-free message.

Strategy and Execution

TFL uses a range of integrated marketing tactics, including print and outdoor advertisements, digital advertising with LGBT publishers, online engagement on the campaign's website and social media channels, and local events.

The goal for TLF's Instagram channel was to establish TFL as an authentic LGBT lifestyle brand and emphasize the importance of living tobacco free. We used learnings from focus group research and literature reviews to develop key insights for creative development on the channel. These insights include:

1. They have experienced difficulties because of their sexuality and gender identity.

2. They are proud of who they are, including their sexuality and gender identity.

3. They care about their appearance and what others think of them.

4. They are highly social and often see their friends as family

This Free Life had to carefully infuse these four key insights about the experiences of LGBT young adults into our strategy for media and events in order to more effectively establish credibility and break through.

To legitimize our Instagram lifestyle content, TFL continues to refine its strategy, capitalizing on learnings we've picked up along the way:

● LGBT young adults like to take pictures at pride events with friends, make LGBT specific jokes, and are affectionate with their partners in photos.

● Live event coverage gets lots of positive comments and helps engage the audience.

● Posts that contained emotional messaging, particularly LGBT Pride, receive high engagement.

These learnings make clear the synergy between Instagram and live events. LGBT young adults gather at our live events, brand ambassadors capture pictures of LGBT friends, and TFL shares those photos on Instagram. Our followers see LGBT lifestyle content including messaging based on key insights, which tends to get lots of positive comments and helps engage the audience. These photos help demonstrate TFL's cultural authenticity by showing LGBT young adults interacting with the brand, and draw engagement from our followers. Users can find us on Instagram after seeing our live events, or vice versa.

Throughout the campaign, Instagram posts of TFL events have broken engagement records for comments and likes on our channel, and shown off fellow LGBT young adults interacting with our brand in person and on social. Incorporating Live content and Instagram stories into our feed has given users a new way to participate in TFL in real time and be exposed to our tobacco-free lifestyle. TFL's Instagram channel establishes credibility through our coverage of live event activations.


This Free Life's Instagram has earned 14.3K+ followers, most of whom fall within our target age (18-24). The paid ads have delivered over 60MM impressions among target users.

Many of our strongest moments on Instagram are when events are incorporated. One post featured an LGBT young adult in a dress designed with the TFL logo, which garnered 450 likes and 4,000 impressions. Another image of an attendee who painted their entire body with the TFL logo garnered more than 750 likes and 6,000 impressions. Instagram posts that capture TFL events have often broken engagement records for TFL's Instagram, and become some of the highest engaged posts in campaign history.

Instagram's Story feature lends itself to snappy coverage of TFL live events, which often include dancing, influencers, and community members living proud tobacco-free lives. This Free Life had a strong presence at the 2018 DragCon (featuring prominent drag queen influencers, Shangela and Alyssa Edwards) which we shared as upbeat Instagram stories. The DragCon coverage was authentic and engaging enough to be shared by the official #DragCon Instagram story, leading to a 110% bump in viewership (and a boost in perceived cultural legitimacy).

Events provide our audience a chance to live out their proud identity and socialize with other LGBT community members—the friends they see as family. Instagram is a platform that facilitates our audience's sense of pride in their personal appearance, and showing off at our live events gives users two ways to engage with the brand.



Entrant Company / Organization Name

Rescue | The Behavior Change Agency, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Center for Tobacco Products (CTP)


Entry Credits