GSD&M Crafts ‘X-File’ for American Legacy

LOS ANGELES After three years of its “Bob Quits, Mary Quits” spots, Omnicom’s GSD&M is changing tactics for the American Legacy Foundation anti-smoking campaign.

“We’ve gained a lot of intelligence on what smokers need to hear,” said Eric Asche, Legacy’s svp, marketing. “Smokers feel marginalized and we want the communication to use a smoker-to-smoker language. The bigger opportunity here is in breaking down what seems to be an insurmountable challenge into bite-sized chunks.”

One 30-second spot, directed by Bryan Buckley of Hungry Man, shows a woman feeling around the car in her driveway as if it’s completely foreign to her. She can’t figure out where to insert the keys or open the door, and finally stumbles into the backseat and awkwardly works her way to the wheel. The voiceover says, “When you’re used to always doing something with a cigarette, it can be hard doing it without one. But if you can learn to drive without cigarettes, you can learn to do anything without cigarettes.” A cigarette is blocked out by an X, which serves as an icon of the campaign.

“We’re depicting a mental struggle in a physical way,” said Russell Lambrecht, vp, group creative director at the Austin, Texas-based agency. “[We] want to build the [quitting smoker’s] confidence again. The idea of relearning how to behave without cigarettes is an ‘aha’ moment. It’s disruptive.”

John Trahar, agency vp, group creative director, said the campaign is based upon new research and “insight from lot of smokers” that of the 45 million smokers, 70 percent want to quit smoking, but only 5 percent do. “They are unprepared,” said Trahar. “They have no plan of action, so their frustration builds. We want to play up that it’s hard but not impossible.”

Trahar said that an important ancillary aspect of the campaign’s tone is that the commercials “build empathy for smokers with non-smokers.”

In addition to three spots, radio and an X-branded Web site, the campaign includes Hispanic versions and nontraditional media placed at trigger points for smokers, such as on coffee sleeves, pint glasses and condoms. Legacy does the media placement.

Associate creative directors Mark Peters (art) and Michael Buss (copy) also worked on the campaign. The spots are airing in Michigan, Maryland and Texas through the end of June.