GSD&M Mimics Reality TV for ‘Bob Quits’

DALLAS GSD&M is using a reality-TV approach in its latest work to promote smoking cessation for the American Legacy Foundation.

The “Bob Quits” effort follows Bob, a New Yorker whose name has been changed, in his attempt to quit smoking. Two-minute glimpses into his struggles are catalogued daily in footage on the Web site The site also includes brief excerpts from Bob about what he’s going through and resources people can use to stop smoking themselves.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene supports the effort. Print, radio, outdoor and online ads also feature insight into Bob’s quest and direct people to the site and to a toll-free number that provides further updates. The $1 million effort broke Monday in New York and will run through Feb. 22.

Legacy charged the Austin, Texas-based Omnicom agency late last year with creating a campaign that capitalized on the New Year’s resolutions many smokers make to quit. The shop found reality TV to be the ideal way to help smokers understand that while quitting is difficult and is a unique endeavor for everyone, there are some similarities in the process.

“The creative team came to us and said, ‘We think there’s a huge opportunity to tap into this reality mind-set that’s going on everywhere,’ ” said GSD&M vice president and account director Marianne Malina.

The agency found Bob through a casting director and taped him for 28 consecutive days. Legacy vice president of marketing Beverly Kastens said he fit the profile of a typical smoker who tries to quit. “We like him for the fact that he has the same struggles that everyone has,” she said. “His life story allows us to tell different aspects of the quitting story through him.” For instance, like many smokers, he relies on his family for support and has a co-worker who smokes, she said.

Ultimately, Kastens and Malina said the success of the campaign would not be based on whether Bob himself succeeds in quitting. “We think every quit attempt is a success story in its own right since it takes eight to 11 attempts to quit for good,” Kastens said.

She said the Washington, D.C.-based foundation will consider expanding the campaign to other cities after analyzing the reaction in New York.