Massey launches youth smokefree campaign
Monday November 4, 2013
Massey launches youth smokefree campaign
Dr Elspeth Tilley from Massey’s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing (at left) with design students Lena Aziz (centre) and Aimee Brennan who both worked on the smokefree campaign concepts and design including promotional posters.
Massey University has launched a nationwide search for the most effective youth smokefree messages that young Kiwis can dream up.
Called the ‘It’s My Life’ competition, the campaign asks New Zealanders aged between 12 and 24 to create a poster, video or app that inspires young people to support a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
There’s more than $10,000 worth of cash prizes up for grabs, as well as a $5000 scholarship to study business at Massey University.
Project leader Dr Elspeth Tilley, from Massey’s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, says the competition is about creating effective messaging for youth, by youth.
“If you want something that resonates with a youth audience, then it really has to be created by people from within the target audience,” she says. “This competition harnesses the creativity of New Zealand’s young people and empowers them to take control of their own health and wellbeing.”
To ensure the competition’s appeal for its target audience, Dr Tilley recruited design students from Massey’s College of Creative Arts to create the ‘It’s My Life’ website and her own communications students to assist with publicity.
“In my Media Skills paper I always give students a real-life project to work on and this smokefree campaign has really captured their imaginations,” she says.
“Then a group of 15 design students doing the Design in Business paper were chosen to create the website and look and feel of the campaign. I thought it was really important to hand the design over to people from the target audience. They came up with something that I would never have imagined – but that’s great.”
Design student Aimee Brennan, who was responsible for the copy and concepts for the ‘It’s My Life’ website, says the project has been exciting to work on because Dr Tilley allowed students to start with a blank canvas.
“This is something that had never been done before in New Zealand – a youth anti-smoking campaign created completely by youth. There was no logo, no design concept so we could really create something we felt would work,” she says.
“We wanted to be fun and quirky and [graphic and illustration label] Lazy Oaf’s patterns were one of our main design influences. With the text, I really wanted to inform young people, but without telling them what to do.”
The competition is part of a broader health communication and research project funded by the Ministry of Health’s Pathway to Smokefree 2025 Innovation Fund.
Massey researchers recently completed a baseline survey of 7008 New Zealanders. They found that only 8.3 per cent of respondents had smoked more than five cigarettes in the preceding two weeks and, of those respondents, nearly 60 per cent said they wished they could quit.
However, older smokers were much more likely to want to quit than younger smokers: only half (52 per cent) of 20 to 24 year old smokers wished they could quit, while 73 per cent of smokers over 40 wanted to stop.
Those aged 25 to 29 were the most likely to have smoked more than five cigarettes in the past fortnight (at 11.9 per cent), and those aged 16-19 were the least likely (at 3.6 per cent).
“That shows that it’s really important to get an effective smokefree message to 16 to 19 year olds so 96 per cent of them remain non-smokers,” Dr Tilley says. “We also need to reach the young smokers who don’t actively say they want to quit and make sure they’re aware this is a choice they’ll increasingly regret as time goes by.”
The baseline survey also found that New Zealand youth have a low level of awareness of the tobacco industry when compared to youth overseas. Under half of the survey respondents (42.7 per cent) thought that tobacco companies should pay for the health costs of smoking.
“Youth campaigns overseas have largely focused on rebelling against the manipulation of ‘Big Tobacco’, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here,” Dr Tilley says. “It may be because New Zealand bans cigarette advertising so they aren’t exposed to slick marketing campaigns.
“It’s meant our campaign feels very different to what I would have expected – there is a strong voice of empowerment, without the rebellion against the tobacco industry. The ideas that come out of this competition are going to be uniquely Kiwi – and I can’t wait to see what our young people create.”
The ‘It’s My Life’ competition opens on November 1, 2013. For full details or to submit an entry go to the competition website at: http://www.smokefree-itsmylife.org.nz/
The campaign’s Facebook page can be accessed at: https://www.facebook.com/smokefreeitsmylife
Entries close on December 31, 2013, with public voting open from now until February 28, 2014. The winners will be announced at a series of Smokefree Summits to be held at each of Massey’s three campuses in March 2014.