Anti-Smoking Ads from Arnold Aim to Turn Heads

BOSTON – The American Legacy Foundation ramps up the shock value of its national anti-smoking campaign in a new series of ads with decidedly scatological themes.

The new ads, part of the ‘Truth’ campaign, were crafted by Boston-based Arnold and Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami, which split the American Legacy account. The client spends $100 million annually on ads.

One spot, “Dog,” follows a professional dog-walker whose furry charges defecate on a city sidewalk. Small signs reading “Ammonia is found in dog poop. Tobacco companies add it to cigarettes” are promptly planted in the feces and read by passersby. The tagline “Knowledge is contagious. Infect truth” flashes onto the screen, indicating that the pedestrians have become “infected” with knowledge that cigarette companies did not wish them to know. “Urinal” is set in a men’s room; where guys relieving themselves are informed by a sanitary cake: “Cigarettes contain urea. So does your bladder.”

A third spot, “Roadside Memorial,” eschews bathroom humor yet may prove to be the most provocative. Kids stop to look at a makeshift shrine decorated with flowers, balloons and the message: “Every day tobacco kills 1,085 more people than auto accidents.”

The ads, slated to break on broadcast and cable programming Saturday, “deliver information about the ingredients in cigarettes … in a manner that is sure to turn heads,” said Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of American Legacy, in a statement

Ads with a similar, if somewhat more restrained tone broke in early September on MTV’s Video Music Awards . One spot showed a large rodent crawling out of a subway station and dying after ingesting rat poison; the rodenticide, like cigarettes, contains cyanide.