Arnold Plays the Crying Game

Emotional Spots for MDPH Focus on One Family’s Tragedy
BOSTON–Arnold Communications has unveiled emotionally charged commercials for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program featuring Rick Stoddard, who lost his 46-year-old wife Marie to lung cancer earlier this year.
Placing the blame for his wife’s suffering squarely on her longtime cigarette addiction, an often teary-eyed Stoddard at one point reflects: “I guess I never thought of 23 as middle-aged.” Footage of the real-life central Massachusetts couple, taken during happier times and close to Marie’s death, drives home the somber, sobering message.
The ads are primarily intended to remind viewers about the real people behind smoking-related death statistics and conclude with the MDPH’s long-held assertion that the time has arrived to “Make smoking history.”
Stoddard, citing his family’s desire for privacy, has declined to give interviews to the press. He came to the MDPH’s attention through a strongly worded obituary he wrote for his wife in the Jan. 10 issue of the Worcester Tele-gram & Gazette, said Dr. Greg Connolly, director of the tobacco control program. “The most compelling advertising we can do [consists of] telling real stories about real people,” Connolly said.
The MDPH has used true stories before, notably in spots that featured Pam Laffin, a young mother battling emphysema, and an execution focusing on a former Marlboro Man who died of lung disease.
The series of seven 30-second spots with Stoddard have begun airing statewide and will continue for the next few months on network and cable channels. The spots will run during Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Will & Grace, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, The X-files, Red Sox broadcasts and elsewhere.
The effort was partly overseen by Stu Cooperrider, who recently joined Arnold, Boston, as a creative director after two years as a freelance copywriter. Cooperrider first worked on the MDPH account in 1993 at Houston Herstek Favat, an agency later absorbed by Arnold. Cooperrider said he looks forward to assisting the agency in a planned bid for California’s $25 million tobacco control program handled by Asher & Partners, Los Angeles. Arnold will pitch through its San Francisco satellite Arnold Ingalls Moranville. K