Despite overall declines in youth cigarette use, tobacco use inequities exist by race/ethnicity. Health communication campaigns can be effective in changing tobacco-related attitudes, intentions, and behaviors and can be used to address tobacco use inequities by targeting young people who are at high risk for tobacco use. In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched Fresh Empire, the first tobacco public education campaign designed to reach primarily African American, Hispanic, and/or Asian American/Pacific Islander youth ages 12 to 17 years who identify with the Hip-Hop peer crowd. This article presents an overview of two targeting strategies-(a) influencers on social media and (b) paid digital and social media advertisements-that Fresh Empire uses to reach its audience and increase message credibility that can inform future campaigns targeting hard-to-reach populations. These strategies help the campaign expand its reach, be authentic, and increase engagement with the target audience. Microinfluencers are selected for their alignment with Hip-Hop values and high engagement rates; local influencers are teens recruited to promote the campaign in their communities; and digital and social ads are purchased with a minimum number of in-target guaranteed impressions. Across both strategies, metrics have met or exceeded expectations, including a sentiment analysis that revealed 87.3% of comments on microinfluencer posts were positive. Initial findings suggest that the tobacco prevention messages have reached the target population and resonated positively, which may help to increase message credibility and improve receptivity to tobacco prevention messages.
Keywords: health disparities; health education; health promotion; minority health; social marketing/health communication; tobacco prevention and control.