Legacy Turns Focus to Chemicals in New ‘Truth’ Ads

A large rat crawls out of a New York City subway station, gasping for breath. As startled pedestrians watch, he collapses on the sidewalk. A sign in his paws reads: “There’s cyanide in cigarette smoke. Same as in rat poison.”

“Ratman” is one of three new spots from Arnold in Boston and Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami for the American Legacy Foun dation’s anti-smoking campaign, “Truth.” The work will break this Thursday during MTV’s Video Music Awards.

Two others also use the same aggressive style seen in earlier work. In “Bio-Suits,” several teen agers dressed in bright-orange hazard suits enter a tobacco conference. The teens offer the suits to conference participants to protect them from the chemicals found in cigarettes.

“Ammoniaide” features teens giving tobacco exec utives lemonade flavored with am mo nia. The idea was taken from tobacco-industry documents that say ammonia is added to cigarettes to en hance taste. Both spots were shot at the International Tobacco Expo held in Las Vegas this year.

The three ads kick off the latest installment of the campaign, tagged, “Infect truth,” in which teens are asked to spread the word about the risks of tobacco. “Our aggressive stuff is what resonates with the at-risk teen who is more of a thrill seeker and likely to pursue risky endeavors,” said Alex Bogusky, CP+B’s vice chairman/creative director. “With the ‘Infect truth’ campaign, we are asking people to be a part of it. It is a call to action.”

The client will spend $94 million on advertising and marketing in fiscal year 2002.

“The tobacco in dustry has no restrictions on what it can put in cigarettes,” said Cheryl Healton, Legacy’s CEO. “There are nearly 600 chemicals tobacco companies report they add to cigarettes. This is something we think teens should know.”