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Escape the Vape

Escape the Vape: How research provided the heartbeat for a health marketing campaign

August 3, 2017

The Escape the Vape campaign was for our client, Public Health – Seattle and King County (PHSKC), with the purpose of learning what teens know and think about vaporizer products and how to prevent teens from vaping, and then use that information to create a marketing campaign to prevent teen vaping in Washington State. We learned from teens that our campaign should be inclusive, motivational, engaging, and fact-driven, which led us to create the Chemical Crew. They’re hardworking chemicals with jobs that make sense, who are upset when they find out they’re sometimes getting inhaled via vape liquid. You can learn all about them at

This was one of PRR’s most research-driven campaigns. The first phase of the project was entirely market research – conducting key informant interviews with prevention professionals, and then conducting a four-week online study with 80 diverse teens and tweens who live in King County, Washington. Throughout the campaign development phase, we had a panel of 40 teenagers (20 in King County and 20 in the Spokane area) provide feedback on all the campaign assets throughout their creation, development, and refinement. We learned so much from the teens and their opinions guided both the overall campaign direction and specific decisions about copy, design, and videos.


Still blowing smoke

During Phase 1, King County teens and tweens logged into an online platform to give their feedback on anti-vaping messaging, including existing campaigns like Still Blowing Smoke.


Activity 18

As we developed our own campaign in Phase 2, we consulted the teen panel regularly for input on everything from the early creative process to the final website.


Through the research, we were able to build a community and created connections both with the teens and within the public health and prevention communities. We really got to know the teens and from what we heard it was an eye-opening experience for many of them. This quote gets me every time:

“I am glad I participated in this project, I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. I think its great King County is doing this, because for a while I thought no one cared, like, ‘official’ people. So it’s nice to know people are paying attention and putting in serious effort.”


I was also blown away by how all of the public health and prevention specialists we met and worked with were genuinely collaborative and oriented around a common goal. As the campaign developed, other public health agencies throughout the state got excited about our vision and became funding partners, and after the campaign launched even more agencies have stepped forward as partners who will be using this material in their own outreach or curriculums.

Throughout the project, I was awed by our team’s ability to take direction from a group of teenagers, while also knowing where to push back and remain confident in their expertise. This campaign really illustrated how a campaign driven by market research really means it’s driven by your audience. The process is powerful, and the results can be truly innovative and effective.


Visit the website and read our other blog posts on the subject:
How using illustrations powered by research help a marketing campaign and
How videos can become an integral marketing campaign tactic.

Kate Gunby, Ph.D.
Written by:
Kate Gunby, Ph.D.

Director of Research

I lead the research team to ensure our clients get the information they need to make well-informed decisions and serve […]