Using Cat Videos To Make Teens Care About Other Stuff: Spotlight On Jasmin Malone, Ad Age 40 Under 40

Written by Dana Sanchez


Jasmin Malone is helping thrust Truth Initiative, an anti-smoking nonprofit, into the modern digital age.

She’s managing director at Washington, D.C.-based Truth, the largest nonprofit public health organization in the U.S. dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past.

Her work on the “Catmageddon” campaign landed her on Ad Age‘s 2017 40 Under 40 list.

Each year, Ad Age recognizes 40 talented people under the age of 40 in media and marketing who have helped advance a business or a brand at an advertiser, agency, media, tech or marketing company.

Malone joined the Truth Initiative — formerly the American Legacy Foundation — three years ago, expanding the “Catmageddon” campaign, which aims to drive down smoking among U.S. teens.

Before cat videos, the Truth Initiative tried just about everything to get people to stop smoking: edgy teens, cowboys with electronic voice boxes, even earnest appeals to our health and vanity, Page 23 Media reported.

“Catmageddon” connects smoking to the death of cats and therefore the end of cute cat videos, according to Ad Age. Malone used branded integrations and custom spots to achieve this. She also explored new partnerships with Snapchat and Twitch to capture younger potential smokers before they light up.

The Catmageddon video, “Truthx Aaron’s Animals,” is a finalist in the Comedy Video category of the Ninth Annual Shorty Awards, which honor the best of social media. The ceremony is scheduled for April 23 in New York City.

The Shorty Awards recognize individuals and organizations producing great content on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and the rest of the social web. Here’s how Truth achieved its objectives:

#CATmageddon became an instant part of pop culture, shining a new light on the deadly and unexpected impacts of smoking. We successfully reframed the risks of smoking, caused outrage, and inspired action. The retweet to unlock hit the 2,500 retweet goal within hours of launch, so we unleashed “The Greatest Cat Video of All Time”: an epic cat house party.

Across channels, we had more than a million views on our “Truth x Aaron’s Animals” video in less than four hours. Within a week, we had more than 8.7 million views and more than 190,000 shares. The larger #CATmageddon campaign drove 399K Influencer engagements and 3.18MM owned channel engagements effectively hihjacking cultural conversation and bringing the danger of smoking back to the forefront.

Malone said her proudest career accomplishment so far has been winning four Effie Awards (marketing communications awards) for her work on the “Finish It” and “Left Swipe Dat” campaigns with Truth Initiative, according to an interview with DM News.


“I want to help eradicate teen cigarette smoking for future generations. As a mother of a 3-year-old son and newborn twin girls, I want my children to grow up in a tobacco-free world,” she said.

“Left Swipe Dat” is a social attack on tobacco in the form of a music video created by 72andSunny for the anti-smoking Truth campaign. It’s based on research that shows people are more likely to “left swipe” you if you’re smoking in your profile picture, Trublupics reported:

To fight a social issue with social content, 72andSunny and Truth wrote the song “Left Swipe Dat” along with a music video featuring multiple YouTube and Vine influencers. Through this initiative, 72andSunny is helping Truth be social, as well as socially relevant, by creating content that resonates with young social media users.

“Left Swipe Dat” features a parade of young pop stars and YouTube personalities singing about rejecting people on the dating app Tinder for featuring cigarettes in their profile pictures. Singer Becky G anchors the video, with X-Factor-born girl group Fifth Harmony handling backup. Comedians King Bach and Timothy DeLeGhetto act as hype men. Harley Mortenstein of Epic Meal Time, Grace Helbig of it’sGrace, and AlphaCat each have a guest verse. There are also cameos from Anna Akana, Jimmy Tatro and Terrence J, according to Page 23 Media:

“In other words, if you were born before 1992 and don’t spend all of your time on YouTube, it’s exactly the right thing to make you feel old and confused and terrified.”

Raised in Southern California, Malone calls Washington, D.C. home. Before joining Truth, Malone worked with entertainment companies and cable networks at a small advertising agency.



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About Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez is the editor of and She has worked in digital and print news media as a business writer and news editor. She has a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. Prior to working in news, Dana worked in advertising.

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