The Truth

The Truth

Rebuilding a Revolutionary Brand for Modern Times

The American Legacy Foundation become "Truth Initiative," and was able to capitalize on the high visibility of the truth® campaign—a popular and recognizable youth brand. While the Truth® campaign was meant to serve the young audience, the truth initiative would primarily serve adults looking to join the cause.

The Truth Initiative aimed to regain relevance and reach a different, expanded audience of policymakers, journalists, educators, student activists, and collaborators. This would lay the groundwork for our Truth® campaign ( redesign, launched in February 2016.

For, a set of once-radical, confrontational tactics were starting to wane in efficacy. In order to reach their target demographic, they moved to a social media-driven strategy to capture mass attention in digital, adopting a more pop-culture-centric tone. Being able to support this move through a flexible, seamless digital platform would be vital for the organization to stay relevant with the younger generation.

How should the Truth Initiative’s new brand identity, content, and digital experience be positioned relative to the Truth® campaign's youth-focused website?


The Solution

Design that Facilitates the Mission

The Truth Initiative worked to achieve its mission through design that not only appealed to a different demographic—but addressed its key initiatives of informing and engaging their audiences.

We developed a pathing strategy that was shaped to four unique mindsets—(1) relationship-building mode, (2) research mode, (3) explorer mode, and (4) activist mode—so that users could be easily directed towards their personal interests.

With a navigation system that is completely customizable, visitors are able to filter news and research by topic, allowing for a more focused, personalized browsing experience—and each detail page paths users to related, relevant content on the same topic.

Flexible editorial architecture, built around modular elements, allows for total editorial control and responsiveness. Breaking news can be prioritized on the homepage, allowing the site’s editors and managers to quickly react to big moments in tobacco policy news or highlight the latest efforts of the Truth® campaign.

How could the Truth® campaign create a more seamless, compelling, and flexible approach that would engage their audience in digital?

A Design That Speaks to Its Audience

With the success of the Truth Initiative rebrand, the truth® campaign turned to Code and Theory once again, this time to focus on its core audience: teens.

The time had come for the campaign's digital presence to evolve from a canvas for sharing cheeky social messaging—to a sophisticated modular system that can accommodate the future of the organization.

The Truth campaign’s three main points were to inform, engage and activate youth—thereby turning casual observers into slacktivists, and slacktivists into higher-value activists. To do so, Code and Theory created a newly designed site centered on fun, interactive content that was relevant to the younger audiences and utilized digital tools that would enhance and optimize their site.


Content Crafted For Engagement

We built an intuitive and simple platform that could scale with the organization’s ambitions. And the formation of a formal in-house editorial team allowed The Truth to take control of their publishing content.

With the use of bold colors and textures, large images and type, as well as engaging copy—we enabled the new website to entertain, inform, and activate young people. The Facts experience allows users to explore Truth’s 300+ tobacco facts—and to react to each fact via emoji and share their vote. A custom quiz tool allows Truth to engage their audience on a level often reserved for big publishers, like BuzzFeed. Clear points of engagement were placed throughout the site, focusing heavily on recirculation and user-generated buzz that would get the audience talking.

A variety of custom tools and modules were created to automatically turn article metadata into storytelling elements that promote the content throughout the site. One CMS tool allows The Truth to track the decline in smoking per capita with an animated graphic that flexes with the number of US smokers. By reusing their data in interesting ways, we offered the organization tools to effectively communicate with their audience, as well as the power to work with an inconsistent publishing flow. Animations are used generously to create an app-like experience that matches the expectations of Truth’s mobile-obsessed audience.


The Results

A New Beginning

In just 12 weeks, the Truth Initiative’s tailor-made content strategy was brought to life through a fresh, modern, dynamic digital presence at The website has been universally lauded as one of the premier destination for tobacco-related news and research by journalists and policymakers, and has helped the Truth Initiative emerge from its “Legacy” brand. The site has further cemented and reaffirmed Truth Initiative’s position as America’s most effective anti-tobacco non-profit.


This project paved the way for our Truth® campaign site ( redesign, which launched on February 12th, 2016. The site has had great success:

  • Social share rate jumped 751% across the board when compared to the old site
  • Users were also 8.6x more likely to share than on the old site
  • Recirculating video across the site helped to make video play rate go up by 369%
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