Legacy Ads Up Gross Quotient

To educate young people about the risks of smoking, the American Legacy Foundation’s latest teen-targeted television spots feature scatological language and strong images.

In one spot, “Dog,” a handler’s charges defecate on a sidewalk. Small signs planted in the feces are read by passersby; they state, “Ammonia is found in dog poop. Tobacco companies add it to cigarettes.” “Urinal” shows guys relieving themselves, informed by a sanitary cake that “Cigarettes contain urea. So does your bladder.”

In the third spot, “Roadside Memorial,” pedestrians stop at a makeshift shrine that’s decorated with flowers and balloons along with the message, “Every day tobacco kills 1,085 more people than auto accidents.”

The trio of 30-second spots broke nationwide on Saturday.

Arnold and Crispin have teamed on the American Legacy campaign, which is best known by its “Truth” themeline, for the past two years. The latest spots extend that line, adding: “Knowledge is contagious. Infect truth.”

“We never set out to be offensive,” said Lisa Unsworth, managing partner of Arnold, Boston, which shares the account with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami.

Teens in focus groups who saw the new executions—on which Arnold’s Pete Favat served as director—gave them high marks, Unsworth said.

The commercials “deliver information about the ingredients in cigarettes … in a manner that is sure to turn heads,” said Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of American Legacy Foundation.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Dr. Greg Con nolly, who works with Arnold on regional anti-smoking ads, has said that messages must be highly targeted to reach at-risk smokers, especially teens who might tune out what they judge to be preachy.

The client spent $115 million on advertising last year and nearly$45 million through the first eight months of 2001, according to CMR.