New Legacy Ads Trade Anger for Empowerment

1st work from 72andSunny is tagged, 'Finish it.'

Legacy—the anti-smoking group behind the "Truth" campaigns—adopts a new strategy in the first campaign from new agency 72andSunny.

Big picture, the tone is less combative and more empowering. The new tagline is, "Finish It."

The campaign's launch ad, "Finishers," positions smoking as a relic of a bygone era. Set to the song "Revolusion" by Swedish performer Elliphant, the ad opens with the message, "In 2000, 23 percent of teens smoked. Today, only 9 percent of teens smoke. That's less than the number of VHS tapes sold in 2013. Its less than the number of landlines still in use. But the fight isn't over."

The spot briefly briefly skewers the marketing tactics of tobacco companies—which had been the focus of previous campaigns from Arnold and Crispin Porter + Bogusky—before moving on to the message, "We have the power. We have the creativity. We will be the generation that ends smoking. Finish it."

Beyond TV ads, the effort, which aims to reach 15 to 21-year-olds, include digital and cinema ads. One digital initiative, highlighted in the first TV ad, enables consumers to place an "X" in an orange square on their Facebook profile photo (without blocking out their faces).

When Legacy began its "Truth" campaign 14 years ago, the ads focused on the marketing tactics big tobacco companies employed on young audiences, taking a rebellious, confrontational tone. Since then, times have changed and it became clear that Legacy needed a different approach. As 72andSunny chief creative officer Glenn Cole told The New York Times, "Blatant examples of marketing cigarettes to younger consumers were no longer appearing with the same frequency and teenagers today were more drawn to taking positive action than protesting."

"An insight we built this campaign around is that this up-and-coming generation is just craving to be agents of social change," Cole added, "and their biggest frustration is that they just don’t know how to do it."

"Finishers" aims to capitalize on young people's desires to correct the societal ills of previous generations, such as gender bias and homophobia. By likening declining rates of smoking to outdated technology, it also likens smoking to social problems that millennials would like to erase.

Despite the strides made against youth smoking in recent years, Legacy and 72andSunny leaders still feel that the odds are stacked against them. "We are definitely David going up against Goliath here," Legacy Chief Executive Robin Koval told the Times, referring to the organization's $130 million advertising budget for the next three years, compared to the $8.4 the Federal Trade Commision has estimated tobacco companies spend on marketing annually. "We need to use the most powerful, effective, well-targeted tools at our disposal."

72andSunny landed Legacy's creative account in February after a review in which the other finalists Anomaly, BBDO, Droga5 and 180LA.