‘Crazyworld’ Out, Jabs At Tobacco Marketing Back In

The American Legacy Foundation sidelines its year-old “Crazyworld” campaign and returns today to ridiculing Big Tobacco’s marketing practices in four 60-second anti-smoking spots tagged, “Seek truth.”

Unlike “Crazyworld,” which used surreal imagery and dark humor to underscore the absurdity and health risks of smoking, the new, estimated $25 million-plus effort urges people to seek out the truth behind cigarette companies’ marketing claims.

The campaign includes print and Web components. Visually striking print ads show teens with their eyes, ears and mouths sewn shut with sutures and “Seek truth” carved into a scalpel poised to cut them away.

“Voice,” the first of the four TV spots, created by Havas’ Arnold in Boston and MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, uses an actual cigarette ad to attack smoking. It shows teens unloading a truck outside tobacco company Altria’s New York offices. They set up two podiums—one for questions, another for answers. A woman in her 50s and a teenage girl stand at the question podium. Behind them is a giant Virginia Slims print ad from the 1990s with a picture of a beautiful woman and the tagline, “Find your voice.” The older woman, a cancer patient who has undergone a tracheostomy, points the mic at her bandaged throat and uses an electronic voicebox to ask, “Is this the voice you expected me to find?” No one appears at the answer podium.

“One of the points we always try to make is that this isn’t something that just happened,” said Alex Bogusky, partner and executive creative director at CP+B. “This particular tactic of using the momentum that women have had and women’s rights as a marketing device and trying to say, ‘You’re empowered to smoke now, too,’—that’s been going on a long time.”

The Virginia Slims ad “is attaching smoking to women’s declaration of independence,” said Legacy evp of marketing Chris Cullen. “I think the [new] ad is brilliant because it says … ‘Maybe if I’m going to exercise my independence, it would be against the message you’re putting out.’ ”

Another spot shows a teen being lifted into the air by a fire truck’s “cherry picker.” The teen asks, “So we’ve got a question for the head honchos way up in the corner offices: If it could save lives, why aren’t all cigarettes you sell in every state fire-safe?”

The campaign will run through the end of the year. The TV work echoes previous “Truth” ads, including one filmed outside a tobacco company. “When [certain campaigns] serve the strategy, we bring them back,” Bogusky said.

“Young people tell us the message does not get old as long as the packaging always stays fresh,” said Cullen. ” ‘Crazyworld’ will be around in different forms for a while and maybe again as the lead strategic creative platform. We will see.”

Legacy spent about $80 million on ads last year and $40 million through July, per TNS Media Intelligence.