American Heart Association

Public Health Advertising Campaign

The Client

The American Heart Association (AHA) is a nonprofit organization in the United States that funds cardiovascular medical research, educates consumers on healthy living and fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The mission of the organization is “to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. As we move into the second century of our work, we are advancing health and hope for everyone, everywhere.”

The organization has a large network of state and local chapters, including a presence in Cleveland, Ohio. Our team worked with the Cleveland chapter in 2023.

The Challenge

On a national scale, tobacco products have historically been disproportionately advertised to the Black community. According to AHA, the more Black children who live in close proximity to convenience stores, the more likely it is that menthol tobacco products will be advertised near candy displays. Additionally, according to the organization, only 5% of the country’s Black smokers used menthol products in the 1950s, but that number has ballooned to 90% today due to increased industry targeting.

Big Tobacco has consistently manipulated this community, with an emphasis on youth, with predatory advertising that differs from traditional messaging and methods in predominately non-Black neighborhoods. As the tobacco industry has transformed over the years, they have continued developing new products to hook and attract customers; flavored products, such as menthol e-cigarettes, have been marketed explicitly toward Black people.

The Solution

shark&minnow developed a mass-market communications approach to create awareness about Big Tobacco’s advertising practices. However, to make the campaign feel more actionable and relevant to the local audience, we created a campaign that tonally resonated with Cleveland locals, while featuring key statistics from the client’s database. 

While the primary goal was to increase awareness surrounding this issue, the campaign’s secondary goal was to “create productive outrage” within the city to underscore the need for legislation.

To successfully spark productive outrage, shark&minnow developed a media plan to boost the information throughout the City of Cleveland. The following tactics were included in the plan:
  • Out-of-home placements on bus shelters 
  • Out-of-home placements on public transportation [Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA)]
  • Social media advertising on Meta (Facebook & Instagram), TikTok, and Snapchat 
  • An op-ed on, one of the leading news outlets in the area
  • Website landing page

To ensure that the campaign creative captured the authentic voice of Clevelanders and maximized relatability, we engaged influencers who would be recognizable and familiar within the targeted communities, specifically the Black community. The out-of-home and social media creative directed users to an American Heart-branded landing page to learn more about the localized campaign in Cleveland and take action by sending a message directly to the Cleveland City Council to advocate for the end of predatory tobacco targeting.

Campaign Video

Out-of-home Advertising