72andSunny, truth Want You to Stop Smoking…for the Cats

By Erik Oster 

72andSunny takes a different approach in its latest effort for truth, glossing over the effects of smoking on humans to focus on the possible effects of secondhand smoking on pets, or, more specifically, cats.

The 30-second spot, entitled “#CATmageddon,” opens with a brief clip of Keyboard Cat before the text “Fact: Cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owner smokes.” We’re not sure what the source is for the claim but the ad then makes the jump to the logical fallacy that cats, and thus cat videos, are in danger of extinction from secondhand smoke with the text “Smoking = No Cats = No Cat Videos,” thus the “#CATmageddon” hashtag. In a call to action, truth ends the spot by promising to unlock “the most epic cat video ever” if the hashtag is retweeted enough times.

There are a few inherent flaws in this new approach.

If the goal of the campaign is to get people to stop smoking (and last I checked it was), presenting smokers with a problem (secondhand smoke inhaled by pets) most can easily solve by just going outside to smoke may not accomplish its goal. It may result in some pet owners doing just that, which could actually benefit some pets (which is nice), but will it convince people to stop smoking altogether? The people retweeting the hashtag and getting behind the effort are almost certainly nonsmokers who weren’t going to start (or restart) in the first place, so it’s almost certainly a meaningless stunt.

The campaign is clearly aimed at a young crowd who may or may not have taken up the habit, but the internet has already weighed in with its completely unsolicited opinions.

“We know that 60 percent of [young adults] have a pet, and 20 percent say they want a pet,” Truth Initiative CEO Robin Koval told NPR in explaining the reasoning behind the effort. “And they do love watching their cat videos.” (On a barely-related note, Koval is also a co-author and frequent collaborator with Linda Kaplan Thaler.)

Koval claims the effort has been a success by spurring online exchanges–as does John Pierce, a professor emeritus of cancer research at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s stimulated a conversation,” he said. “It’s about the cats. It’s also about the smoking.”