Getting Tough With Moms-to-Be

The creative department at Luckie & Co. was faced with a tough challenge: how topersuade undereducated and underemployed women not to smoke while pregnant.

“The research showed a touchy-feely approach wouldn’t work,” said Martin Buchanan, executive creative director at the Birmingham, Ala., shop. “So the motivation had to be selfish: ‘Think what your life will be like when your child is always sick.’ “

Two television spots take some risks to make that point. “Department of Babies,” a 60-second PSA, shows a weary woman trying to convince a stone-faced bureaucrat to exchange her wailing infant for another. The child is keeping her awake a night, threatening her job. “This isn’t the baby I’m supposed to have!” the mother whines. “I want a healthy baby!”

After learning that the mother is a smoker, the bureaucrat points to a sign—”No healthy babies for mothers who smoked during pregnancy”—and sends her on her way.

“We had a fine line to walk,” said copywriter Laura Black. “This isan unsympathetic woman on the verge of losing control. We wanted to illustrate what may happen if you smoke while pregnant. At the same time, we don’t want to alienate our target audience.”

The second ad, “Crying Is Cute,” comes close. Two big-haired escapees from a trailer park stand over a hospital crib nattering in baby talk: “Aren’t you a sick preemie baby! Did your momma smoke when she was pregnant? Yes she did!”

Both anti-smoking commercials end with an telephone number to call for Alabama Tobacco-Free Families’ “I Can Quit” kit.

“We’re hoping to make them think about not smoking while they’re pregnant,” said Myra Crawford, a University of Alabama Medical School researcher who oversees the outreach program. “We hope family, friends and partners support that decision.”

Radio, print and guerrilla marketing work will break after Labor Day in target Alabama counties.

The guerrilla campaign will incorporate posters with tear-off help-line phone numbers. Posters will be displayed in laundromats and on telephone kiosks.

Luckie’s Patrick Miller was the art director on the spots; Hal Goodtree produced. Christina Hodnet of C2K in Los Angeles directed. Steve Cox of Atlanta’s Outback Editorial handled the editing.