No. 3, July 2004
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
The VERB™ Campaign Logic
Model: A Tool for Planning and Evaluation
Marian Huhman, PhD, Carrie Heitzler, MPH, Faye Wong, MPH, RD
Suggested citation for this article: Huhman M,
Heitzler C, Wong F. The VERB™ campaign logic model: a tool for planning
and evaluation. Prev Chronic Dis [serial online] 2004 Jul [date
cited]. Available from: URL: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2004/
campaign uses a logic model as a tool to share information, to facilitate
program planning, and to provide direction for evaluation. Behavior change
and communication theories are incorporated to help hypothesize how behavior
change might occur. Evaluation of the campaign follows the process of the
logic model. The elements of the logic model are described and further
explanation “pops up” as the reader rolls over the graphic of the logic
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A logic model is a picture of how planners think their program is going to
work. It is a systematic, visual way to present the elements of a project
and its desired outcomes. Also called a program’s “theory of action,”
the logic model expresses not only the obvious components, such as the
program’s activities, but also the underlying assumptions and theoretical
framework of the program’s interventions (1). Throughout the life of VERB™
(2), the logic model has been a tool for campaign planners to communicate
with stakeholders, participating creative agencies, and evaluators. As a
road map that guides campaign planning, message development, and outcome
evaluation, the logic model has changed as the strategy of VERB has evolved
in response to research and results from VERB’s evaluation. Here we
describe the elements of the VERB logic model, summarize key theories that
have influenced its development, and link evaluation activities to the
components of the model. The reader can scroll through the graphic of the
logic model for additional information on the model’s components.
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Elements of the Model
[ View enlarged image
and descriptive text ]
When mapping out an activity, it is often best to start with the desired
destination. For VERB, the destination is expressed in the model under the
heading of Long-Term Outcomes by the statement of broad
vision, All youth leading healthy lifestyles, and specific mission, To
increase and maintain physical activity among tweens (children aged nine to
13 years). The Congressional language that appropriated funding for VERB
included the words of the vision statement. Campaign planners selected
physical activity and the tween age group as VERB’s focus to reach the
vision. The endpoint of the logic model, the box titled Reduction in
chronic diseases, reflects the desired long-term impact of VERB’s
vision, an outcome that is broader than the scope of VERB and that will take years to realize. Nonetheless,
the goal of tweens
engaging in and maintaining physical activity is within reach of the planned five years of the VERB
campaign and will affect the development of chronic diseases as children
age into adulthood (3).
logic model reads from left to right, beginning with Inputs,
or fundamental resources, to the campaign. These inputs include
Consultants (experts in marketing, youth physical activity, and
evaluation), organizational resources such as project Staff, and the Research &
Evaluation infrastructure at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). Contractors represent a major input and include
general-market creative and public relations agencies, creative
agencies specializing in ethnic markets, and an evaluation contractor. Community
an input that expresses the importance of context for the child’s
engagement in physical activity. Partnerships provide an essential
resource for guiding, supporting, and extending the reach of the VERB
Activities are the products that result from the project’s inputs. As a media
campaign, VERB focuses on both paid and donated Advertising in the
form of television and radio commercials, print advertisements, and out-of-home
ads (e.g., billboards, mall kiosks). Important Promotions
include special events, in-school promotions, contests, and sweepstakes.
VERB hosts three Web sites, one each for tweens, parents, and
partners. Additionally, VERB provides and monitors information through
activities. National & Community Outreach has been actualized by
engaging partners such as the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs and by
mobilizing community-based constituents whose goals are aligned with those
Short-term and mid-term outcomes
Activities lead to Short-Term Outcomes and then
to Mid-Term Outcomes for both the tween and parent audiences.
The first boxes, sometimes called proximal outcomes, relate to tween
and parent awareness of the campaign brand and its messages. An
underlying assumption of the VERB model is that individuals must first
attain a high degree of awareness to achieve behavior change. Awareness for
VERB begins with the VERB brand, the vehicle for message delivery. If a
brand is created that is “cool” to the target, tweens will talk — or
generate Buzz about the campaign and brand messages — further heightening interest
in the brand and the messages.
VERB’s messages appeal to tweens’ needs to have fun, to enjoy themselves
while being active with friends, and to have confidence that they can be
physically active. These messages are linked to desired changes in how
tweens experience physical activity in their lives, depicted in the next box
of the logic model. Specifically, VERB aims to change tweens’ a) Subjective
norms (the belief that important referents approve or disapprove of a
behavior); b) Beliefs, especially in the benefits of physical
activity; c) Self-efficacy, or confidence about being physically
active; and d) Perceived behavioral control,
or how strongly tweens
believe they can engage in physical activity even if there are barriers to
Proceeding to Mid-Term Outcomes for tweens, VERB planners
believe that as tweens internalize the benefits of physical
activity, they will act on these beliefs by a) generating Positive buzz for
physical activity among tweens (now
about physical activity, not just the VERB ads); b) enlisting support
of parents to help them be physically active; c) going through a phase
of intend[ing] to do physical activity; or d) going immediately to a long-term
outcome of engage[ment] in physical activity. Some
children, especially younger children, may skip c) (intention) and go directly to
engagement in physical activity because they are not deliberate in their
decision-making process, or parents may sometimes intervene prior to
For parents, short- and mid-term outcomes also begin with message awareness.
VERB messaging for parents is meant to work differently, however, than it
does for tweens. Because VERB must be kept genuine as a cool “by kids, for
kids” brand, the brand is de-emphasized for parents. Parent-directed
messages aim to affect how parents prioritize physical activity in their
child’s life, giving the parents specific recommendations for physical
activity for their child, helping them develop skills on how to verbally and
nonverbally support their child’s physical activity, urging them to expect
their child to be physically active, and, finally, encouraging parents to be
physically active with their child. Campaign planners hypothesize that as
parents internalize changes in Knowledge, Beliefs, and
parents will support tween’s participation in physical activity,
enhanced by tweens enlisting support from them. As depicted in the model,
planners also expect that as parents prioritize their child’s physical
activity needs, the parents, as well as other influencers of tweens (e.g.,
coaches, teachers), will mobilize and advocate for physical activity.
views parents and other influencers as important forces in helping to ensure
that options and opportunities are available for children to be active. For
children to engage in organized or free-time activities, they need teams,
clubs, and safe and appealing places to be active. As depicted in the model,
VERB perceives Activities of
National & Community Outreach as essential to improving
Availability and access to organized and non-organized settings for physical
acknowledges that places to be active are part of the critical
socioecological perspective that surrounds the campaign and affects its
immediate and long-term success.
box Tweens engage in physical activity is framed by a double line to
indicate that it is the primary distal outcome of the VERB campaign. This
box represents a broad conceptualization of engagement in physical activity
that ranges from inactive tweens doing at least something to minimally to
moderately active tweens doing more; it also includes tweens trying a new
activity. VERB ads seek to motivate the minimally active tween and to keep
tweens in general interested in physical activity. Promoting new activities
may be an important route for some tweens to experience the benefits of
physical activity. As depicted in the logic model, intention may precede
engagement; parent support and availability and access to physical activity settings
are important in facilitating tweens’ engagement in physical activity.
being physically active is a necessary but not sufficient outcome of the
VERB campaign. Thus, the double-lined box leads to the endpoint of the VERB
campaign, the critical and sustained effect of VERB on tweens: Tweens
maintain physical activity. VERB planners believe that for tweens to
maintain physical activity, communities must sustain efforts to provide safe
and appealing settings for tweens to be physically active, depicted by the
arrow connecting the box Availability and access to organized and
non-organized settings for physical activities to
the box Tweens maintain physical activity.
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Theories related to social marketing and behavioral change have played an
important role in developing the logic model. Research in marketing,
communication, and physical activity provided a theoretical structure for
advising the creative agencies on developing the VERB messages and for
helping evaluators hypothesize a model of change. The logic model’s boxes
and directional arrows represent the underlying assumptions and the beliefs
or theories about how children will change in response to VERB advertising.
Below, we describe the theoretical framework that drives the VERB logic
Branding theory (4) posits that the target audience will develop a
relationship with the brand that 1) begins with association with brand
attributes, 2) builds affinity to those attributes over time, and 3) results
ultimately in long-term loyalty to the brand. Hypothesized steps in building
the VERB brand relationship include the following:
- Association with an image that is cool, fun, and socially appealing.
- Production of a positive affective response, such as “I like VERB”
or “I want to be VERB,” and a positive cognitive response, such as
“I think I can do [what is seen in the advertisement], too.”
- Integration of these associations into the child’s identity: for
example, “I am a cool, fun kid because I am a VERB kid.”
- Evolution of the child’s beliefs — with repeated exposure —
toward, for example, “I want to do X and I will try X because I am a
cool, fun VERB kid.”
- Motivation to change through the VERB brand occurs because VERB
supports the child’s existing motives, needs, aspirations, and values.
The effect would be that the child first juxtaposes VERB values
with his or her own, and then shifts toward adopting the VERB motives,
needs, aspirations, and values.
Support for these processes is provided by researchers with the truth™
anti-smoking campaign, who have posited that through internalization of the
“truth brand,” youth adopt self-images as a “truth teen” that
lead to positive dispositions not to smoke (5). Similarly, VERB assumes that
children will adopt behaviors portrayed in the ads that support a self-image
of being physically active through a process known as “identification”
— how much children want to be like the people they see on television.
Identification is associated with important antecedents to behavior change,
such as expectations of benefits, and is especially salient with younger
Theories of message design help explain the steps for building awareness of
a brand like VERB. For example, if branding evokes a high level of interest
and identification with the advertisement, then information processing
theory, such as the Elaboration Likelihood Model (7), suggests that the
child would be willing to exert more cognitive effort to pay attention to
the ad, understand it, and actively process its message. Messages provoke
active processing when the presentation of content is unusual, unfamiliar,
or novel (8) — all key features of the VERB advertisements — and when
there is a discrepancy between expectation and reality, such as with the
“Paint the Town” VERB promotions in which a water tower is wrapped to look
like a soccer ball.
campaign planners decided early on that VERB would be a positive campaign
with advertising exclusively characterized by laughter, play, fun, and
enjoyment of physical activity. Message designers believe that creating
positive feelings in the child will lead to immediate, but also enduring,
influence over later cognitive processing (9). Positive appeals are good at
attracting attention; they invoke “approach” behaviors, meaning they
make it more likely that the audience will be receptive to the forthcoming
message. Monahan has asserted that positive appeals are more likely to be
recalled, to change attitudes, and to lead to compliance with the desired
behavior (9). Moreover, media campaigns that promote commencement of a
desirable, positive behavior show larger effect sizes than cessation
campaigns that attempt to extinguish a risky or undesirable behavior (10).
Articulating how VERB would lead to change in physical activity behaviors
was especially challenging because most health-related behavior change
theories are still being tested for their applicability to children. Two
theories, the theory of planned behavior (11) and social cognitive theory
(12), have been used to plan or test interventions in children and were
applied to VERB. The logic model incorporates elements of the two theories
into boxes under Short- and Mid-Term Outcomes.
Theory of planned behavior
theory of planned behavior proposes that one can predict people’s
intention to perform a behavior from the attitudes they hold toward that
behavior, from a measure of their subjective norms, and from the control
they have to perform the behavior (13). The theory proposes that intentions
correlate with observed actions (14). A study of Canadian youth reports
support for the association of norms, attitudes, and behavioral control with
intentions to be physically active (11).
Social cognitive theory
the theory of planned behavior is a personal-level theory, social cognitive
theory emphasizes the interplay of intrapersonal factors, environment, and
behavior (15,16). Intrapersonal factors have cognitive, affective, and
biological aspects. Environmental factors encompass the immediate social
environment, such as teachers, peers, and parents, in addition to physical
environments, such as the presence and appeal of a backyard, driveway, or
neighborhood. Principles of social cognitive theory that are especially
applicable to child physical activity behaviors include 1) perceptions of
the environment, knowledge, and skill to perform an activity; 2) others’
observations of and reinforcement for activity trial; 3) beliefs about the
likely outcomes of a behavior; and 4) the values that the child places on
the outcome. In addition, self-efficacy (the confidence of the child to
perform the behavior) is a critical part of the theory and has been shown to
be an important prerequisite for the physical activity of children (17).
Information processing theory
Another theory that guided campaign strategists to manage expectations for
the size of behavioral effects is McGuire’s hierarchical steps of
information processing (18). McGuire’s model posits that the impact of
persuasive communication is mediated by three broad stages of message
processing: attention, comprehension, and acceptance. Attention depends on
exposure and awareness; comprehension is predicated on understanding the
message; and acceptance includes intention and, finally, behavior change. In
McGuire’s model, because of the inherent variability in how people process
media messages, a percentage of the audience is lost at each stage. Thus,
high levels of exposure and awareness are needed to create measurable
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logic model has been an important tool in bringing rigor and direction to
VERB’s process and outcome evaluations. In the beginning stages of the
campaign, the exercise of mapping how the program would work brought clearer
vision and purpose to campaign efforts, which in turn eased the
development of measurable objectives, making evaluation more efficient and
productive. Every box of the logic model beyond the
Inputs section has been evaluated for process or outcome. For example, one of
VERB’s major promotional events was evaluated with on-site intercept
interviews and a follow-up survey. In addition, VERB’s creative agencies use the VERB Brand
Tracking Survey primarily to assess key features of the brand’s resonance
with tweens. VERB’s staff use the tracking survey continuously to track the numbers of tweens who have an awareness and understanding of VERB and its messages.
also use the survey to track multiple qualitative features like
“wear-out” of commercials and to help modify the channels of VERB’s
instruments that measure campaign outcomes reflect the constructs expressed
in the Short- and Mid-Term Outcomes boxes. The primary outcome
tool, the Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey includes items that tap tweens’ perceptions of social norms, self-efficacy, beliefs, and
perceived behavior control. Survey items measure tweens’ intentions to be
active and perceptions of parental support as well as parental knowledge,
attitudes, and behavior. The survey also includes five measures of physical
activity behavior to evaluate the long-term outcomes of the campaign. (The
survey as well as other evaluation resources are available at
a conceptual and practical benefit of a logic model is reinforcement of the
idea among VERB program staff that projects like VERB represent a continuous
process where results of evaluation are used to modify Inputs and Activities.
To maximize impact of the VERB campaign on the physical activity levels of
American tweens, VERB planners are continuously engaged in this feedback
loop, responding to audience research data, the monthly tracking study, and
the outcome evaluation to refine VERB messages and their delivery.
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VERB campaign’s logic model is a learning and management tool that began
long before the VERB brand existed. The logic model is a
workhorse for the VERB campaign; it serves as an effective tool for
sharing knowledge among stakeholders, creative agencies, and program staff,
contributes to more effective programming, and provides
conceptual structure and practical direction for VERB’s evaluation.
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Corresponding author: Marian Huhman, PhD, VERB Campaign, Division of Adolescent and
School Health (DASH), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
(NCCDPHP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Mail Stop K-85, Atlanta, GA 30341.
Author affiliations: Carrie Heitzler, MPH, VERB Campaign, Division of Nutrition and
Physical Activity, NCCDPHP, CDC, Atlanta, Ga; Faye Wong, MPH, RD, VERB
Campaign, DASH, NCCDPHP, CDC, Atlanta, Ga.
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