GSD&M Tracks Smoker's Trials in Quitting

DALLAS An anti-smoking campaign from Omnicom Group’s GSD&M called “Mary Quits” uses an online reality show format that portrays a smoker’s daily struggle to quit, according to client American Legacy Foundation.

A television spot and print ads in Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., direct viewers and readers to a Web site where the person identified as “Mary” discusses her efforts to overcome her addiction to nicotine, the client said.

“When the campaign ran in Washington, smokers responded positively to Mary’s story and the human face it put on the difficult process of quitting,” said Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. “We hope to have the same response in the Buffalo and Rochester area.”

The Erie-Niagara (N.Y.) Tobacco-Free Coalition, the Smoking & Health Action Coalition of Monroe County (N.Y.) and the New York State Smokers’ Quitline are also participating in the campaign, the foundation said.

The American Legacy Foundation, a national public health organization in Washington, D.C., receives funding from tobacco companies through the settlement of a lawsuit over the harmful effects of tobacco.

Legacy spent more than $70 million on paid media in 2004 and $30 million through September 2005, per TNS Media Intelligence.

“Mary” is a pseudonym for Tonya Guess, the real-life smoker who agreed to participate in the smoking cessation documentary, a Legacy spokesman said. Guess, 28, has since married and had a baby, the foundation said.

At the Web site, Guess appears in two- to three-minute video segments.

The “Mary Quits” campaign ran in Washington in September and October 2004. A similar campaign called “Bob Quits” ran the same year in Queens, N.Y., a Legacy spokesman said.

GSD&M, based in Austin, Texas, handles Legacy assignments for smoking cessation.