Political Campaigns

Taking Down Big Tobacco in California

With Save Lives California


01 / Background

In 2016, Proposition 56 sought to raise California’s tobacco tax for the first time in nearly 20 years. This meant taking on the powerful tobacco industry, which had repeatedly used its massive political war chest to stave off previous attempts, keeping California’s tobacco tax among the lowest in the country. But this time, a well-organized and broad coalition of local support knew the tobacco playbook and were ready for a new fight, and hired GMMB to join them.

Advertising / Media Planning / Creative Content / Digital / Video Production

02 / Strategy

GMMB developed a precision-focused strategic and creative approach that delivered a hard-hitting presentation of the facts of tobacco addiction, while also sealing a memorable, emotional connection with target voters that could stand out among a crowded field of ballot initiatives. Combining digital, addressable and broadcast TV, GMMB developed a paid media strategy to reach key target voters and frame the terms of the debate early, using winning messages layered in over the course of a 16-week campaign.


03 / Work

To make the most of the campaign’s paid media dollars, GMMB produced a set of powerful creative content, including first-of-its-kind high-impact digital advertising, as well as broadcast and addressable TV advertising. The content was designed to drive key messages and counter attacks from well-funded tobacco industry opponents. Our work showed the ability to consolidate support among target voters and even shift the vote by a significant margin to hold our lead during an onslaught of attacks.


04 / Results

Winning Pollie awards for our television and digital campaign, our digital content reached 18 million California voters, including through highly compelling video content that broke through benchmarks with a 74 percent completion rate. And despite being outspent by a three-to-one margin by tobacco industry opponents, 64 percent of California voters said “Yes” to pass Proposition 56, raise the state’s tobacco tax for the first time in nearly two decades, and help prevent a new generation of smokers.