Maryland Makes Smokers Public Enemies No. 1

The first work from gkv communications and public relations partner Porter Novelli for Maryland’s Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation program broke last week.

The $14 million “Smoking stops here” campaign, half advertising and half grass-roots initiatives, seeks to change what gkv officials called a “social norm.”

“We started from the plain fact that no matter how provocative we make them, the last thing the world needed was another commercial about the dangers of cigaretteand second-hand smoke,” said JeffMillman, creative director at gkv.

Instead, the Baltimore agency, which won the account last December, decided to undercut what Millman called the “tacit approval of smoking in public places.”

“We decided we’d talk to the seven out of 10 Marylanders who are not satisfied with the idea that smoking in public places is OK.”

Agency account supervisor Kevin Kempske said most people are shy about asking smokers not to light up at baseball games or on the street, despite the state’s relatively strict nonsmoking laws. The initial campaign, to be followed by targeted television spots in September, is something akin to a civics lesson, according to Millman.

Thirty- and 60-second spots airing on network and cable stations across the state reinforce the activist message the Baltimore-based client is trying to convey.

In the commercials, directed by David Butler of Butler Films in Annapolis, Md., a montage of citizens talk about where they do not want others smoking.

Singer Lisa Loeb, in a voiceover, directs viewers to the state’s Web site. It is there, said Kempske, that people can learn how to take action against smoking in public.

The agency’s other partners include research firm Northrop Grumman Information Technology Health Solutions & Services and minority shop Twenty-First Century Group, both in Baltimore.