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Special Project

Special Project
From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards


Finalist in Twitter


Research shows nearly 5 million multicultural youth are open to smoking or already experimenting with cigarettes. It is also estimated that youth who identify with the Hip Hop peer crowd are 50% more likely to use tobacco than mainstream youth. After rigorous research, Rescue created "Fresh Empire," which is the FDA's campaign to prevent and reduce tobacco use among at-risk multicultural youth ages 12–17 who identify with the Hip Hop peer crowd.

Fresh Empire (FE) pursues this objective with a variety of integrated marketing tactics, including traditional media, experiential efforts, and social and digital media. The campaign finds strategic ways for these channels to work together and prioritizes the strategies that focus on direct interactions through social media platforms, influencers, and events. In particular, FE's Twitter feed and The New Wave event series showcase the strength of the campaign's content strategy and multi-channel approach. By maximizing Twitter's capabilities, the campaign was able to use it to elevate The New Wave event series and ensure the success of both the event series and the Twitter integration.

Twitter is a crucial platform for FE's campaign strategy because it enables the campaign to target its hard-to-reach audience by increasing digital engagement on Twitter and the website, which may increase receptivity to the campaign's tobacco messaging, and affirm the campaign as an authentic Hip Hop voice. Achieving these goals on Twitter ladders back to and supports the campaign's ultimate objective: prevent and reduce tobacco use among Hip Hop teens.

Strategy and Execution

Fresh Empire's innovative campaign strategy focuses on associating tobacco-free attitudes and values with culturally relevant identities to change the target audience's tobacco-related behaviors and intentions. Social media is a key component of FE's goal to change tobacco-related behavior and norms. Our activity on social media helps to build engagement through two-way conversations, establish ties between the behavioral benefits of living tobacco-free and Hip Hop cultural values, and share evidence of changing norms. The hyper-targeted techniques available on Twitter help FE reach our niche audience.

Twitter is an ideal platform to help FE accomplish our campaign goals because of its emphasis on engagement, and its ability to drive traffic to the website and affirm the campaign's Hip Hop voice. To help fulfill these goals, FE launched The New Wave rap competition, in which Hip Hop teens were driven to the website to vote for their favorite up-and-coming tobacco-free Hip Hop artist. Teens voted on three 'rounds' of competition via social media and the website. The winner received a spot on a cross-country FE-branded event series with other influential Hip Hop artists.

The New Wave digital experience highlights the strengths of FE's Twitter strategy and content. Twitter is a platform for real-time sharing of short content and media, which made it perfect for promoting The New Wave's time-sensitive contest and events. FE shared performance excerpts and brief interviews, and played up the competitive and promotional aspects of the prize by using Twitter's unique features, such as Twitter polls. Footage of live events and performances demonstrates Hip Hop authenticity, and the tobacco-free message was reinforced by the talent's personal stories and beliefs.

FE's Twitter content increased digital engagement and helped drive the audience to the Fresh Empire website to watch more TNW and other tobacco-free content, and increase their opportunities to share a campaign message. After voting, participants were incentivized to share on their own Twitter accounts to multiply their vote 5X. The artists utilized their own Twitter feeds to encourage fan engagement with the competition. Through these organic shares, FE drove even more traffic to the site, and seeing FE organically pop up in other Hip Hop teens' channels can help legitimize FE as a Hip Hop voice.

The contest winner, Lil Key, promoted the event series and amplified our tobacco-free message in Twitter videos: "I can't let nothing slow me down, so you know I grind tobacco-free." FE's live events make compelling Twitter video content, and are consistently among our best performing posts. Other performing artists in the event series and local brand ambassadors used their Twitter accounts to promote the tour. The campaign leveraged these influential accounts to further amplify promotion and increase engagement on Twitter.

The New Wave leveraged key insights about our target audience to amplify the tobacco-free message on Twitter. This amplification not only helped to create authenticity and credibility within the audience, but it also helps move FE toward its campaign goal of shifting perceived norms around tobacco use within the Hip Hop community.


Over the lifespan of The New Wave, we received 200K+ contest votes, 26K+ video completions, 18K+ contest shares (a 16% improvement over previous online contests) and almost 400K+ visitors to The New Wave experience (112% increase), fulfilling our goal and culminating in an 11.5% conversion rate. During these months, FE was mentioned on Twitter over 15K times. The audience resonated with the content enough to keep the conversation going on Twitter; TNW brought a huge 549% increase in Twitter mentions compared to the previous quarter. The New Wave content and tobacco-free message was shared to thousands of new teens via Twitter. Both the competition and the event series received heavy promotion and engagement on Twitter.

The New Wave also further established FE's Hip Hop credibility to the point where prominent Hip Hop influencers organically jumped in to participate; Eminem tweeted his support for one of the competing artists, Nasaan, to his 20M+ followers, and from Shady Records to its 208K+ followers. These organic shout outs are evidence of FE's legitimacy as a Hip Hop lifestyle brand. Real Hip Hop voices respond when the content is credible.

Overall, our Twitter channel has garnered 520M impressions, 130K followers, 63K retweets, and over 49M video views. The success of The New Wave on Twitter and across all channels demonstrates that Fresh Empire has established credibility with Hip Hop youth and achieved a high level of engagement with this hard-to-reach audience.



Entrant Company / Organization Name

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


Entry Credits