Arnold Piggybacks GSK Ads on N.Y. Smoking Ban

NEW YORK Call it capitalizing on misfortune or just trying to help, but GlaxoSmithKline has leapt into action following the March 31 implementation of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s smoking ban in New York with three new ads for its products that help people kick the habit.

Created by Arnold in New York, the print campaign breaks on phone kiosks across the city on Friday. The ads, combining reversed-white copy over monochrome photographs of empty bar stools, take an understated, humorous approach.

“Guy walks into a bar,” reads one ad. “He can’t smoke. That’s not funny.” A second ad states, “If you think quitting is hard, have you tried smoking lately?” and the third: “Apparently, the mayor wasn’t kidding about that smoking ban.” All ads show GSK’s Commit (a lozenge), Nicoderm (a patch) and Nicorette (a gum) and carry the tagline: “The New York City smoking ban is here. Could be time to quit.”

“It’s not heavy-handed in any way, because that would be totally inappropriate,” said Arnold evp, group director Barry Silverstein. “We wanted to get out the message in a lighthearted way that now might be a time to think about quitting.”

While Arnold had been in talks with the client about a spot-market “modular” campaign geared toward a number of cities introducing tighter smoking laws, nothing was discussed specific to New York until the agency approached the client a month ago. The ads were created in three weeks. They will run exclusively on phone kiosks for four to six weeks in New York.

At first creative director Rochelle Klein considered placing ads in bar restrooms and on matchbook covers among other media. But the creative team, which included copywriter Andrew Cahill and art director Gerald LaStarza, decided phone kiosks would be the best way to reach smokers as they congregated outside.

Separate ads currently running nationally for Nicorette show the product and copy stating that it is okay to have an extra piece of gum when you have an extra tough craving. The tagline: “Helps you quit, one craving at a time.” A TV spot now on air, with the same tag, shows a cigarette machine following a smoker.

GSK, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C, and Philadelphia in the U.S. (global headquarters are in London), spent a combined total of about $75-80 million on its Commit, Nicoderm and Nicorette brands in 2002, according to CMR.