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77: Eric Asche’s greatest weapon in the battle against tobacco use: the truth

Eric Asche

In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” Alan talks with Eric Asche, chief marketing and strategy officer for Truth Initiative, the largest nonprofit public health organization in the United States. Under Asche’s stewardship, the nonsmoking initiative “Truth” campaign has taken dead aim at Big Tobacco and was named by Ad Age as one of the Top 15 Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century.

During the course of the podcast, Asche touches on the difficulty in taking on the tobacco industry, which has a product that is legal and addictive and spends more on advertising in a day than Truth Initiative spends in a year: “We can’t solely rest on the moral high ground,” says Asche, “because that’s not the reason why individuals make this type of decision. And so, for us to have an impact on that buy-in behavior, to use a sort of marketing lens, we have to compete and understand how the tobacco industry is positioning themselves in the marketplace and the role the product is playing in the consumer’s life. And then, we have to compete with something that’s better. That’s really the challenge in front of us.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Asche talks about the path of his career and how he ended up at Truth Initiative. (1:37)
  • “Zealous focus on the consumer” is a key factor in the “Truth” campaign’s success. (3:41)
  • Asche discusses the use of marketing to get people to not do something. (6:10)
  • The fact that people today are smoking less presents its own set of challenges for Truth Initiative. (9:02)
  • Asche on the “Truth” campaign’s role in popular culture — “We need to reward the consumer for paying attention to us.” (11:58)
  • Asche on partnering with authentic people and brands who share the same values. (15:04)
  • Hear what Asche has to say about taking on the tobacco industry. (22:04)
  • Asche is driven by the relentless pursuit of reaching the audience. (29:43)
  • The future of marketing: Asche has his eye on personalization of messaging and microadvertising. (33:38)