BBDO Gives Teens Voice in N.J. Anti-Smoking Ads

BBDO Minneapolis aims to give teens a sense of power over tobacco companies in a campaign for New Jersey’s anti-smoking efforts.

The $5 million television and outdoor campaign that breaks in the Garden State this week encourages teens to tell tobacco companies they can’t be bought.

“We were really going for something that would stand out and portray kids in a more heroic light,” said BBDO Minneapolis vice president and creative director Karn Knutson, who was also the art director for the campaign.

The work “piggybacks” on the American Legacy Foundation’s national “Truth” campaign, Knutson said. While that campaign, created by a partnership of Arnold Worldwide in Boston and Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, shows teens demanding answers from tobacco companies, the New Jersey effort is meant to show kids taking a proactive stance because they have the power of knowledge, she said.

“We wanted to focus on giving kids the power,” she said. “[The message] has a bit of defiance to it, but it’s something you can say without being confrontational.”

TV spots feature voiceovers from teens saying they’re are not “dumb” and that they “know what’s going on.” The spots end with a whispered voiceover encouraging teens to “Tell Big Tobacco: Not for sale.”

BBDO developed the approach during its pitch for Minnesota’s teen-oriented anti-smoking campaign. After that account was awarded to crosstown shop Campbell Mithun, Omnicom Group public relations shop Fleishman Hillard called the agency in to aid in its New Jersey effort, said Dave Alm, vice president, creative director and copywriter on the campaign.

“[NJ officials] responded to our positive approach of speaking to kids,” Alm said.