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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

TSET Healthy Youth Initiative’s Swap Up Campaign

Entered in Public Health


Oklahoma has the eighth highest youth obesity rate in the country, with an estimated 150,000 children who are classified as overweight or obese. Obesity prevalence is significantly higher among those living in rural counties, where Indigenous groups are the largest population of color. Though most teens want to be and feel healthy, our research has found that they often don’t consider how their food choices impact their health. Instead, they gravitate toward foods their peers eat, taste good, or that are cheap and convenient. 

Studies have found that natural foods are linked to higher rates of happiness, and kids who eat more fruits and vegetables are more likely to do better in school. Meanwhile processed foods are linked to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and stress that can affect focus and memory and are shown to be associated with poorer attention and visual learning. However, teens are more likely to appreciate the importance of food choices if they are tied to concrete, immediate effects on their lives. Gaining weight in the future, developing diabetes one day, or just feeling generally better is not motivating or specific enough. With this information, we sought to deliver specific, realistic, and memorable nutrition advice that teens can easily incorporate into their daily lives. Our specific goal is to convince teens that swapping a side or snack for a healthier option is not as challenging as changing your entire diet, and it’s worth it to help you feel and perform your best every day.

Strategy and Execution

In order to reach teens who typically have a short-sighted outlook on their eating habits, we sought to associate the pros of healthy snack swaps (strength, focus, happiness, satisfied hunger) and cons of unhealthy snacks (weak, tired, moody, hungry/bloated) to their lifestyles and everyday activities. We wanted to show them how what they were eating was affecting things like athletic performance, alertness, or energy for class. Specific focus was given to rural teenagers, who faced a higher obesity prevalence and needed specific, relatable messaging delivered. Swap Up’s first step was a baseline survey with 400+ Oklahoma teenagers to gain insights into their nutrition-related knowledge, habits, attitudes, and beliefs. We gained valuable information like how often they drank water, their intent to change their poor eating behaviors, and barriers to eating fruits and vegetables. From there we developed several creative concepts designed to motivate teens to swap out unhealthy foods for produce and sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) for water that were message tested with Oklahoma teenagers and refined according to their feedback.

We created multiple message packages employing our SAVI approach (with goals that are specific, attainable, viable, and impactful) containing a 30-second flagship video along with a library of creative social assets to increase knowledge about the immediate impact of food on the body and mind. As Oklahoma has many agricultural and farming communities, we specifically created videos to resonate with teens in rural areas and used diverse talent to ensure proper representation among racial demographics. The ads were activated on multiple channels, including:

During the eligible timeframe, two message packages (each with one rural and one urban video) were completed. The packages, titled Watermercial and Crave Control, ran from August through October, 2022, and January through March, 2023, respectively.

Additionally, on March 22, 2023, we deployed a Swap Up Day for schools and community organizations across the state with a like-minded goal of teaching Oklahoma teenagers about healthy food options. We ideated a concept that would appeal to both rural and urban teenagers: a Swap Up Cafe that encourages teens to “Eat How You Wanna Feel.” At the event, teens could order food based on a feeling, rather than picking an item they want to eat. For instance, if a teen placed a “Happy” order, the host then served them a healthy food that has been scientifically proven to increase one’s mood. We also created a 5 page microsite featuring a digital experience that teaches how food fuels one’s mind and body.

We created an ‘event-in-a-box’ to send to hosts with everything they would need for a successful day. In addition to a $100 Visa Card to purchase healthy food, the following physical items were designed, printed, and given in each host box:



Video for TSET Healthy Youth Initiative’s Swap Up Campaign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Rescue Agency, Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust


Entry Credits