Anti-Smoking Gets Personal

Asher Continues the Fight With a Range of New Ads
LOS ANGELES–Asher&Partners continues its hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign for the California Department of Health Services Anti-Tobacco Initiative with a TV spot that highlights smoking-induced impotence.
“Gala Event,” the centerpiece of the estimated $25-30 million campaign, incorporates the results of a recent study suggesting tobacco use can cause male impotence. The humorous 30-second TV spot opens with a shot of a man and woman flirting with one another at a formal party. The man lights up a cigarette, but when he inhales, the cigarette suddenly goes limp. The woman quickly loses interest and walks away. A voiceover notes: “Now that medical researchers believe cigarettes are a leading cause of impotence, you’re going to be looking at smoking a little differently.”
The spot ends with a group of men in tuxedos at the same event, all with limp cigarettes, as the voiceover continues: “Cigarettes. Still think they’re sexy?”
“Men care more about their sex lives than their health in general,” explained Bruce Dundore, agency partner and executive vice president, creative director. “Impotence is a crazily hot topic right now, and incredibly important to men.”
“Cigarettes have always been depicted as a macho kind of product,” added Joel Hochberg, agency partner, president and chief operating officer. “[These ads] puncture that.”
Print ads using the limp cigarette theme will appear in Rolling Stone, Spin and other consumer papers and magazines.
Meanwhile, a series of 10-second TV spots focuses on charges that the tobacco industry manipulates consumers. Each spot levels a separate accusation, spoken in a voiceover and written on the side of a fast-burning cigarette. As a group, the spots suggest the industry’s actions–including ignoring the medical dangers of smoking, doing research on children as young as 5 years old, and halting the development of safer cigarettes–represent systematic profiteering at a high human cost.
Other TV work includes a sober warning to young people from a lung cancer patient; a statistical outline of the effects of secondhand smoke on children; and a rejection of the industry’s claim that it no longer advertises to those under 18.
The campaign follows the agency’s award-winning work created for the Sacramento client last year. TV and radio spots break today, with print ads to follow in July, according to Christine Steele, Asher’s senior vice president and account director on the state business. Outdoor ads broke throughout California earlier this year.
The spots will air on network TV throughout California. They will also be given to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for distribution to TV stations nationwide, said Hochberg.