CP&B Back on Big Screen to Fight Smoking
Even fake movies, if they’re successful, get sequels.
Now playing in Florida is the second faux movie trailer from Crispin Porter & Bogusky’s ersatz “Evil Empire Pictures.” Playing on more than 2,000 screens, it’s a knockoff of the trendy teen thriller genre, and the latest salvo in the Miami agency’s “Truth” campaign for the Florida Tobacco Pilot Program, aimed at curbing teen smoking.
Directed by Phil Joanou (U2: Rattle and Hum, State of Grace), the two-minute ad follows “the perfect family in the perfect town,” where something has gone horribly wrong. The father and his mysterious employers show an unhealthy fascination with the family’s teenage daughter and her peers. Kids at school are gossiping. An intrepid reporter is on the case. There’s talk of a “doomsday scenario.” Dad is confronted as a murderer, first by strangers and, as the edits race and the music builds, by his daughter.
“I’m just doing my job!” he finally wails in anguish, as the screen goes black and the title, Secrets of a Tobacco Executive, slowly appears.
Frank Penela, director of communications at the Florida Department of Health, says much of the dialogue was culled from actual tobacco industry documents. The “doomsday scenario,” for example, “is a term [tobacco executives] coined to describe the situation where all the smokers die off so the tobacco business dies off,” Penela explains.
In 1998, CP&B’s original “Cinema” spot, which teased a fictitious movie about an X Files-style conspiracy to market a “deadly toxic substance harvested by man,” won numerous awards and is credited by some agency observers as putting the shop on the national radar.
“The original one ran in five cycles. They kept bringing it back,” says copywriter Tim Roper, who worked on both spots with art director Paul Keister.
Compared to the $1 million put behind “Cinema,” over $1.7 million is being spent on the new push, which includes print ads, billboards, T-shirts, bus sides and three movie posters that will go up in multiplexes. Thirty- and 60-second versions of the ad will air on television, with Blockbuster running the latter twice an hour in its 354 Florida stores through June 18.
“As with any sequel, you want to make it a little stronger, a little more aggressive, a little more in-your-face,” says Joanou. “I wanted to take it even farther. But [the client] said some of the things I was pushing for could [lead to] legal action.”
The work comes just before the second review this year for the estimated $30 million account. CP&B retained the business in February, but a protest about technical flaws in the ITN (invitation to negotiate) led the state to reopen the review.
“It would be nice if it was just the quality of creative that mattered, but unfortunately there’s more to it than that,” Roper says. He declined to elaborate.
For his part, the FDH’s Penela credits the agency as “at least partly responsible” for the 54 percent decline in middle school smoking and 24 percent drop in high school smoking in Florida since 1998. And he pulls no punches about the creative. “I think this is the best thing we’ve done yet,” he says. K
Florida Tobacco Pilot Program
Agency: Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami
Creative Director: Alex Bogusky
Art Director: Paul Keister
Copywriter: Tim Roper
Executive Producers: Terry Stavoe, Sara Gennett Lopez
Director: Phil Joanou
Production Co.: Billins, Beverly Hills, Calif