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Game Changer? Smokeless Tobacco Knocked Out of the Park in Boston

featured / tobacco / behavioral research / health research
Nationals’ Bryce Harper drew attention earlier this year when fans saw his cheek packed with what turned out to be an herbal mixture. Despite the Major League Baseball (MLB) restrictions on using chewing tobacco during televised interviews (but notably not during the game) and on carrying tobacco packages in uniform pockets, little progress has been made to disassociate baseball and chewing tobacco. The MLB player’s union has stood firm in its opposition to banning smokeless tobacco use despite health concerns and last summer’s passing of hall of famer Tony Gwynn, who attributed salivary gland cancer to his smokeless tobacco use. The union’s argument is a common one when it comes to tobacco control opposition – personal choice. New players off the field, however, are stepping... more
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Why Scientists and Communicators Can't Just Co-Exist, We Need to Co-Create: Takeaways from NCHCMM

behavioral research / conferences / featured / blog / health research

Last week, our Communication Research team attended the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, GA. As speakers reminded us that we were there "to move the needle," I was reminded of Captain Planet. Hey, the mind works in mysterious ways. My biggest takeaway from the conference was more an observation. A path forward. A commitment to combining powers. More specifically, the conference brought together communicators and researchers - all working toward common goals and bringing something unique to the table that alone isn't nearly as powerful - but often the two seemed to be two sides to the same coin, never meeting. I heard communicators. I heard scientists. I heard communicators playing the role of scientists and... more

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When Does "Healthy" Mean Healthy? Misleading Advertising and Consumer MisPerceptions

featured / behavioral research / health research / advertising research
Walking through the grocery store, you're bound to come across dozens of claims displayed in large bright letters on product packaging: "Natural," "Low-Fat," "Low-Sodium." These words are often harmless—a fat-free yogurt describing itself, or a jar of peanut butter promoting its ingredients. But product packaging labels can also be misleading. Occasionally, a product will have a claim that is outright incorrect or inaccurate. More frequently, though, misleading product labeling uses language that implies a benefit of the product that does not exist or an exclusive feature that is actually shared by other brands. For instance, a food item billed as having "No Trans Fat!" might cause some consumers to believe that other brands of that same food do contain trans fat, which may not be... more
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Get Active! The Power of WOOP

featured / behavioral research / health research / fmg culture
A few months ago, FMG launched their first ever Get Active! Challenge. For several weeks, employees worked in teams to log their daily "steps" and compete for some great prizes. This sparked a little friendly competitiveness between colleagues, prompted some clever team names, and most importantly, got us up and moving. Being a new employee at the time, I was a little timid about sharing my less-than-ideal workout habits with my coworkers. So I chickened out and decided to watch from the sidelines. However, I knew that even if I wasn't ready to put my exercise habits in the limelight at work, I needed to work on them at home. To help me in my quest, and because I am a huge nerd, I turned... more
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Public Data and Public Health - Using Open Data to Promote Health and Safety

featured / public health / behavioral research / health research
Every two years, George Mason University hosts the D.C. Health Communication Conference (DCHC), which brings together people across the academic, government, and private sectors to discuss issues and opportunities related to health communication. On April 16-18, researchers and practitioners converged on Fairfax, VA, for this year's DCHC. George Mason University DC Health Communication The panel and poster presentations covered a wide array of topics, including intercultural communication competence, health advocacy, computer-mediated communication and health, and the application of big data to health communication research. Fors Marsh Group was among the presenters at DCHC this year, and we discussed and demonstrated how publicly available data from national surveys can be used to identify tobacco prevention messaging strategies—a... more
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Raising the Grade on Chronic Disease

featured / health research / public health / behavioral research
Over the past two decades, the American Public Health Association (APHA) has put on National Public Health Week (NPHW) during the first full week of April. Each year, NPHW focuses on public health issues in the United States by bringing together national, state, and local partners to highlight areas of improvement for our nation. Today marks the first day of NPHW 2015, which is themed "Raising the Grade." The driving force behind "Raising the Grade" is the recognition that even though the U.S. is rife with high-quality doctors, procedures, and pharmaceuticals, we are still behind other countries in key areas such as life expectancy, infant mortality rate, and prevalence of chronic disease. In particular, as noted on the NPHW website, rates in the... more
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Conjoint Analysis- A Tool for Understanding Decision-Making

featured / statistics / behavioral research
Imagine a man walking into a grocery store to buy a bag of coffee beans. In the coffee aisle, he is faced with myriad options. The different bags of coffee differ not only by brand, but also flavor, ground vs. whole bean, degree of roast, caffeine presence, and nation of origin. Somehow, he is able to psychologically sort through all of these options and make a decision about which bag of coffee to buy. Typically, researchers trying to understand this decision-making process would simply ask the consumer, "Why did you buy that bag?" However, his response might not be the most valid way of understanding his decision for several reasons. First, he might suggest that the purchase was made because of a more socially desirable... more
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Growing Up in an Obesogenic World

featured / health research / public health / behavioral research / advertising research / blog
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and as such there has been a lot of press lately about what to do about the obesity epidemic. In fact I recently saw an ad for the documentary, Fed Up, which alleges the obesity epidemic all boils down to the consumption of sugar and provides insight on the role that the food industry and our own government plays in the epidemic. I haven’t seen the documentary yet, but as a social and behavioral scientist, it got me thinking about the synergy between policy intervention and personal efforts to lose weight, and the importance of recognizing the limits of individual agency, especially for children. While obesity rates in the United States have soared among all age groups in the... more
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Focus Group of One - Nationals On-field Experience Provides Unique Perspective on Smokeless Tobacco

featured / health research / public health / tobacco / behavioral research / advertising research / blog
Don’t talk about work. This was the only advice my husband gave me before I headed down to the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals game Monday night against the Braves (holy smokes, did that really happen?). He knew it’d be hard to resist. I’ve posted a time or two (or five) about smokeless tobacco in Major League Baseball for instance, click here. It’s the perfect storm for me. Health, behavior change, baseball. So many of my passions intersecting. Nationals Baseball Enter Steven Souza (International League MVP and Rookie of the Year, no big deal), who will catch for me. He opens with the classic DC... more
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CVS Quits for Good

featured / health research / public health / behavioral research / advertising research / blog
CVS is telling consumers to keep walking if they’re looking to get a nicotine fix with a new pack of cigarettes or a can of dip. CVS announced in February that they would stop selling all tobacco products by October 1, 2014 as part of a larger initiative to focus on health and well-being. Yesterday, CVS unveiled their full initiative and announced that their tobacco products sale ban was effective that day, September 3—almost a month ahead of schedule. CVS Quits for Good As highlighted in the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, over 20 million American deaths have been attributed to smoking since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report (which first reported the impact of smoking on health).... more
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To change health behavior, tell a story- Lessons from the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media

featured / health research / public health / behavioral research / conferences
Last week, our team attended the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta. This year’s conference theme was “what’s your story?” and the focus was on learning how to best incorporate stories into health communication. Storytelling is one of the earliest forms of communication, and incorporating it in your marketing can have a powerful influence on behavior change. NCHCMM So, what was our story at the conference? I presented on Indirect Marketing and Youth Smoking Intentions as part of the Quantitative Audience Research to Inform Youth-Related Public Health Communication and Policy breakout session, and we were busy as a conference sponsor and exhibitor. Not too busy, of course, to attend some... more
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Into the hot zone of Hotlanta - What Ebola at Emory can teach us about risk perceptions

featured / health research / public health / behavioral research / conferences / blog
Our team spent the past few days at the CDC National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media in Atlanta - and no, we did not catch Ebola. Many people asked me if I was worried about going to Atlanta. Based on the news coverage, I’m not surprised. But perspectives from medical experts suggested there really wasn't a risk at all (in fact, thankfully, both patients were released from the hospital this week). What gives? What gives is a common challenge in risk communication - a discrepancy between expert and layperson perceptions of risk. More specifically, lay person evaluations of risks are often predicted by affective and subjective components of risk whereas experts tend to evaluate risks (at least within their personal field of... more
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Smokey Bear Turns 70; Gets Us Fired Up About Public Health Branding

featured / health research / public health / behavioral research / advertising research / blog
Happy (early) birthday to an American icon! Smokey Bear was created on August 9, 1944 through a partnership between the Ad Council, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters. Though his tagline has evolved a bit from the original “Smokey says, Care will prevent 9 out 10 forest fires,” the underlying call to action has remained constant – and Smokey’s message is still going strong in what is the longest running public service campaign in U.S. history. http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/daramg3144/files/2014/04/FIRST-SMOKEY-FOR-BUSINESS-CARD.jpg His now recognizable catch phrase – “Only you can prevent forest fires” – speaks to a common tactic in this sort of campaign. Get people to believe individual action is important and impactful. Like the... more
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Coverage of Tony Gwynn’s Death Likely to Affect Perceptions of Smokeless Tobacco Risk – But in what Direction?

featured / health research / tobacco / behavioral research / advertising research / blog
Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn died much too young Monday at the age of 54, succumbing to salivary gland cancer. Gwynn had used smokeless tobacco during his 20-year career with the Padres, and his passing has people talking about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and its tie to our nation’s pastime. How the conversation is framed, however, will determine if this will be an opportunity seized or missed for prevention/cessation efforts. http://online.wsj.com/articles/tony-gwynns-death-has-mets-thinking-about-smokeless-tobacco-1402968225 Players know the risks, but they choose to use smokeless tobacco anyway. At least that’s the line they’re giving reporters. We face this challenge with our work with youth as well. It is essential for the communicator to realize that there’s a difference between... more
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World No Tobacco Day: The higher the tax, the less death and disease

tobacco / social marketing / behavioral research / current events / blog
On May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners around the world will celebrate World No Tobacco Day. This year’s theme is to raise taxes on tobacco. According to WHO, research shows that higher taxes are especially effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and in preventing young people from starting to smoke. Increasing excise taxes on tobacco is considered to be the most cost effective tobacco control measure. The World Health Report 2010 indicated that a 50% increase in tobacco excise taxes would generate a little more than $1.4 billion in additional funds in 22 low-income countries. Hi Megan We already see the positive impact of high tobacco taxes in the United States.... more
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Going out on the proverbial legal ledge: using social media for applicant screening

behavioral research / conferences / social media research / blog
The growth and acceptance of social media sites across generations has been well-documented. Given the popularity of Facebook and Twitter and the unfiltered type and amount of information that individuals post about themselves, it is not surprising that some businesses view social media as a quick and inexpensive way to learn additional information about and potentially screen applicants (1). While businesses are hoping to get an unfiltered picture of their applicants, they might also be getting information unrelated to the job that could lead to illegal employment decisions. That is, U.S. Federal law prohibits businesses from making employment decisions that discriminate against individuals of certain protected classes: race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information (2). Businesses... more
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Your Web-Based Survey Should be “Medium Rare”

behavioral research / user experience / blog
On Wednesday evening, I had dinner at Medium Rare , a fun, friendly, neighborhood restaurant in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington DC, where “customers can just relax, and have a simple yet exceptional meal served to them.” This was my third time there, and each time I go, I am amazed by how busy it is. Honestly, it’s good but what’s so fantastic is the experience – there is a pre-fixed menu of artisan rustic bread, mixed green salad, and culotte steak and fries – the only thing you have to choose is the temperature of your steak. Even their wine and beer lists and the dessert menu are short. Everything is prepared well and consistent – something many people,... more
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The bigger victory: Nationals star discusses struggle to quit dip as National Public Health Week begins

behavioral research / health research / social marketing / youth / blog
The Nationals’ home opener may not have gone as planned, but yesterday they came through with the win and a stellar kickoff to another opening day – that of National Public Health Week (NPHW). Ian Desmond delivered the game-winning homer against the Braves, but the “bigger victory” he spoke of after the game was going the entire game without dip. Like many other tobacco users, Desmond began his habit as a teenager – underscoring the importance of prevention efforts (a key theme of this year’s NPHW). Nationals star Ian Desmond Through his description of his struggle to quit, Desmond highlighted several themes potentially key to the success of prevention efforts.
  1. Tradition. more
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Going for Olympic (Advertising) Gold

advertising research / in the news / behavioral research / current events / featured / blog
On the heels of the Super Bowl comes another win for advertising with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Whether people are setting their alarms to watch the events live or avoiding all spoilers until the primetime rebroadcasts, the Olympics are traditionally one of the most watched television events. The Olympics dominated the Nielsen top 10 rankings for the week of February 3rd, capturing the top 4 spots with the February 7th Opening Ceremony taking first place with 31.69 million viewers. The Sunday Prime Time, Saturday Prime Time, and Thursday Prime Time broadcasts completed the top 4 (1). With such viewership it is no wonder that NBC Universal announced in September 2013 that it had sold a record setting $800 million in advertising to a... more
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Is TV Advertising Always a Touchdown?

advertising research / behavioral research / current events / in the news / market research / featured / blog
With the Super Bowl this Sunday, the advertising world is abuzz with predictions on what to expect from the top spenders and advertisers. At least they can count on the fact that TV ads continue to be trusted, and probably will for some time. Newspapers and Magazines are still most trusted forms of advertising, with almost two-thirds (63% and 62%, respectively) of consumers trusting advertisements from those sources. Television is not far behind at 61% (1). TV ads are also cited as very influential, with 68% of consumers indicating that they always or sometimes take action on something after viewing a television ad. And despite the rise of digital ads, TV accounts for the largest amount of advertising dollars spent, with over $63 billion spent... more
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FMG Researchers Publish Research Evaluating the Validity of Key U.S. DoD Personnel Forecasting Measures

behavioral research / military research / survey research / youth / news
Arlington, Virginia – January 21, 2014 –Last week, past and present Fors Marsh Groupers Mike Ford, Jen Gibson, Brian Griepentrog, and Sean Marsh received word that their research entitled ‘Reassessing the Association of Intent to Join the Military and Subsequent Enlistment’ was accepted for publication in the Military Psychology. This is a great accomplishment for our research team and a significant contribution to the research literature. As many of you that follow the Fors Marsh Group blog know, intent to join the military, or propensity, is one of the primary ways the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) forecasts the military recruiting supply. Although propensity has consistently been found to be the single best predictor of actual enlistment decisions over the past few decades (1),... more
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E-Cigarette Companies Ring in the New Year with New Ads and New Tricks

advertising research / behavioral research / health research / blog / social marketing
E-cigarette companies had a booming year in sales and marketing in 2013 and they’re not stopping until someone (the FDA) makes them. I first reported on e-cigarettes back in early November, but little has changed to federally regulate them. Companies are still able to promote their products in all media outlets, social media included. However, some states and cities are establishing their own regulations. On December 19, New York City Council passed a bill that now bans e-cigarettes wherever smoking is also prohibited (1). This includes restaurants, bars, parks, and office buildings. Advocates of the bill said that e-cigarettes confused bartenders, waitresses, and other enforcers of the existing smoking ban (2). NY councilman James Gennaro, one of the lead sponsors of the ban, believes... more
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Social Marketing and Beyonce Singing the Same Tune? Not Quite.

advertising research / behavioral research / in the news / blog / current events / social marketing
Last week Beyoncé set the Internet abuzz when she released a surprise new album in what some have called a stroke of social marketing genius. A great example of a common mix-up between social media marketing and social marketing, Beyoncé’s album release isn’t social marketing as we think of it. However, we’ve been excited to see social marketing (i.e., the application of marketing principles and techniques to plan, implement and evaluate social change programs (1)) trending in 2013 as well. The appeal of social marketing lies in its utility in producing behavior change through a consumer oriented approach. More and more, evidence suggests there’s more to behavior change than a rational, well-thought-out argument. This is an idea that seems second nature for marketers of products... more
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The Psychology and Advertising Behind Black Friday

advertising research / behavioral research / blog / in the news
Hi MeganI have a confession to make – I am the woman in this Target Black Friday commercial. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving not only excite me because I know I get to spend time with my whole family, but it also means it’s the start of Holiday shopping – signified by Black Friday. After my family’s Thanksgiving feast, the women in my family, young and old, circle up with piles of ads and start discussing stores and deals. Over the years, 5 am alarms turned into 3 am alarms, which turned into shopping all-nighters. Nothing makes me happier than frolicking in the aisles of Target at 2 AM and grabbing the very last iHome that’s... more
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Making the Most of an Ethnography Study

advertising research / behavioral research / ethnography / blog / youth
"Who is your typical rural teen male?" As market researchers, we often field these types of questions from clients working on a campaign. We need to be able to provide a portrait of the target market so that the strategy and creative teams can create a message and execution that resonates with the intended audience. Otherwise, how would any ad prompt people to buy that latest Apple product or eat more fruits and vegetables? One recent question we were tasked with was ‘who is your typical rural teen male?’ which was part of an overall effort focusing on rural teen males for a public health campaign. So, who is your typical rural teen male? I have a confession: I have no idea about rural teen... more
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While the Cat is Away, The Mice Will Play: E-Cigarette Advertising Runs Free... For Now

advertising research / behavioral research / health research / blog / youth
Let’s play a quick game. Let’s imagine you see commercial with an attractive young celebrity on TV holding a cigarette, saying it’s a “perfect puff every time,” enticing you to purchase these so you can look as cool as him or her. Cue another scene, you’re at the race track and you see cigarette brand sponsorships plastered on the cars and drivers. What decade am I thinking of? The 1960s? ‘70s? Actually, no, I’m thinking of this decade, right now. But instead of the traditional cigarette or cigarette brand, it’s the e-cigarette (or electronic cigarette) – a new product that’s spreading like wildfire. An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that looks like a traditional cigarette, but does not contain tobacco or produce tar and carbon... more
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Kicking the (Red) Can: Coke Comes Under Attack Amid Concerns About Obesity

advertising research / behavioral research / health research / blog
Show-stopping tagline of the week: Happiness doesn’t come in a red can. Obesity does. The “can” the ad refers to is Coke, and the ad (part of the Howard County Unsweetened campaign) asks people to choose healthier beverage options.(1) It moved me – kind of. I saw the ad. I hit print. I hit send. I grabbed the two people within earshot, and I shared. And…I proceeded to finish the Coke I was drinking. Then for three days I’ve thought about why. I was excited about this ad. It grabbed my attention. I’m still thinking about it. But, it wasn’t enough to make me give up my afternoon caffeine fix. The fact is it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. And my hunch... more
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Hope Springs Eternal For (Sorry, DC Sports Fans) Those Who Watch Underdog Narratives

advertising research / behavioral research / health research / blog
If you're looking for an excuse to veg out in front of the TV this weekend, we’ve got you covered. Your favorite guilty pleasure may have a positive impact on your well-being – if it has an underdog narrative. In a recent study (1) published in Media Psychology, people who watched underdog narratives (2) for five minutes a day, for five consecutive days, reported feeling more hopeful than those who watched comedies, nature scenes, or no videos – and their hopefulness remained elevated for up to three days after viewing the final narrative. Hi MeganHope has been linked with psychological and physical health, coping ability, and commitment to goals. And, the big “so what” for these results is... more
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