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Second-Hand Smoke Becomes Asher's Latest Foe

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The children in Asher & Partners' new ads for the California Children and Families Commission have a serious message: An estimated 40,000 people nationwide will die this year as a result of second-hand smoke.
In one ad, a little girl stands in front of a mirror practicing a plea to her mother to stop smoking. The spots, produced in English and Spanish, each wrap with a toll-free number.
The client and the Los Angeles-based agency admit the child-focused print, outdoor, radio and TV ads might be a bit heavy for some people--but not unnecessarily so.
"We're trying to reach women who smoke while they're pregnant and parents who smoke around their children," said client communications director Kristina Parham. "If we can get the message to the parents through the voice of a child, then we think that is a successful means of doing it."
The $14 million campaign broke last week and continues through May. It is financed through state taxes collected from cigarette sales. The statewide campaign warns parents of the risks to their children of asthma and birth defects resulting from cigarette smoke.
"We feel we need to be an advocate for children, and we believe our campaign does that," said Asher account director Christine Steele.
Asher, known for its award-winning general anti-smoking ads, was awarded a contract in November to handle this campaign's launch. Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, Sacramento, will create some outdoor work.
A review for a shop to handle the second phase, also billing $14 million, will begin in May. --David Lipi