For many LGBT folks, young adulthood can be tumultuous: hardship, growth, stress, belonging. Many young adults wish they could reach back in time to give their younger selves some love and advice. The Love, Me video series offers a powerful glimpse into the lives of four LGBT community members by sharing encouraging letters to their past selves.
About 2 million young adults (age 18-24) in the U.S. today identify as LGBT. This population is more than twice as likely to use tobacco as their non-LGBT counterparts. The This Free Life campaign aims to align a tobacco-free lifestyle with the real values held by LGBT young adults. Changing those perceptions means showing LGBT young adults they can live tobacco-free—and still be who they want.
Since launching in 2015, This Free Life’s distinctive videos have reflected the vibrancy of our audience’s lives: high energy, bright colors, big personalities. But we wanted to tap into our key insights with a more emotionally significant and contemplative tone.
The Love, Me video series is an empowering message of staying non-toxic when times get tough. Authenticity is key; each video features a real LGBT community member proudly discussing their personal struggles to their younger self. Pulling at the audience’s heartstrings allows the brand to connect in a personal way and shed light on the negative impact of tobacco.
Our objective with this video series was to create opportunities for meaningful engagement (quantitative and qualitative) about our audience’s real experiences.
This Free Life is the first-ever national tobacco-prevention effort targeting LGBT young adults. Before launch, FDA conducted a thorough literature review, and 34 diverse focus groups among 140 LGBT age 18-24 participants. The takeaways from this research informed the brand’s tone and strategy. Two key insights were:
1. LGBT young adults have experienced difficulties in their lives because of their sexuality and gender identity.
2. LGBT young adults are proud of who they are, including their sexuality and gender identity.
We love pride parades and drag queens, but this research tells us that the lives of real LGBT young adults are more nuanced. Since campaign launch, most This Free Life campaign messaging has been celebratory and upbeat, but This Free Life decided to pivot our tone to better address the emotional needs of this audience. We introduced new content focused on authentic stories that are poignant and vulnerable (without forsaking our key insights).
Love, Me included four long-form videos of LGBT individuals speaking to their younger selves, with each video accompanied by an interview of each talent talking about their personal struggles. Each spot in the series discussed authentic, relatable stories—and the pride of resilience.
The strategy was to highlight a diverse group of real LGBT young people. By crafting content that leans into a more contemplative tone, the brand created a unique and compelling video series that our audience responded to positively.
Each of the four talent are real LGBT community members speaking candidly about protecting their lives from toxicity:
Before launch, we pinpointed what media channels are ideal to reach to an LGBT audience. We have used a range of integrated marketing tactics, including print, out-of-home, digital ads, local events, and social media. The Love, Me series was featured on ThisFreeLife.gov and ran on paid social ads, digital banners, and owned organic content on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
The Love, Me webpage received 41K+ visitors. The videos have received 160K+ views and generated 7K+ engagements across owned social channels:
○ Facebook - 3,658 Reactions, 137,000 Views
○ Instagram - 2,731 Likes, 7,619 Views
○ Twitter - 223 Likes, 14,943 Views
○ YouTube - 124 Likes, 5,387 Views
Several Love, Me talent shared content to their personal channels, which brought the narrative even closer to their real identities, amplified the brand, and shared the tobacco-free message to their wider net of followers.
These metrics signal interest from our audience toward the uplifting messaging of Love, Me, but they can’t capture the success of qualitative user engagement. Comments left by users on Kentrell’s spot demonstrate how strongly the content resonates:
This series created opportunities for the campaign to respond directly to audience members. In that last case, “Congratulations, that’s so great to hear! If you ever need more resources on quitting, feel free to check out our site www.smokefree.gov/lgbt.“
Across channels, Love, Me has ignited a positive conversation around living proudly LGBT, and demonstrated how keeping it tobacco-free is a part of showing love to yourself (past and present).