Riester-Robb Extends Anti-Smoking Reach
LOS ANGELES–Having targeted younger smokers with its previous efforts, Arizona’s Department of Health Services is aiming its new anti-tobacco campaign at adults.
The estimated $12 million campaign, the state’s first directed at adult smokers, was created by Riester-Robb in Phoenix. Its strategy is to empathize with smokers who are struggling to quit.
“Most tobacco education efforts [take] the medical point of view or the nonuser point of view,” said agency president Tim Riester. “We’re trying to reach tobacco users by showing that we understand how difficult it is to quit.”
The first TV ad, which broke Sept. 23, introduces “Chuck,” a smoker who is frustrated with society’s restrictions against smoking. “Do you believe the grief we have to take from people? It stinks. Blah. Blah. Blah,” he tells the viewer. “You’re not ready to quit, are you? I’m not either. … Now what do we do?”
The 30-second spot ends with a toll-free number for the Smokers’ Helpline, a state-run service that provides counseling as well as referrals to local health centers.
“Our strategy is to create a bond with smokers and convince them they can quit by identifying ways that [the state] can help them quit,” said Brad Christensen, the department’s communications director.
Upcoming ads will show Chuck’s progression toward quitting. A separate Hispanic campaign, created by Optimo Advertising, Phoenix, uses the same structure, featuring a character named “Carlos.”
Arizona estimates that nearly 750,000 adults smoke or chew tobacco in the state. To prepare for the campaign, Riester-Robb sent out creative and account planners to interview both heavy and occasional users.
“What we found is that people who use tobacco generally use it in conjunction with some other behavior, such as driving or socializing with friends,” Riester said. “We have to address their daily rituals and help change that behavior.”
The campaign, which includes outdoor, radio and print ads, will run through next June, Riester said.
The state will continue to target youngsters with Riester-Robb’s award-winning campaign, tagged “Tobacco. Tumor causing, teeth staining, smelly, puking habit,” which broke in 1996.